By Carol E. Davis (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District)February 22, 2011
WIESBADEN, Germany - Following a time-honored tradition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District held a change of command ceremony at the Schloss Biebrich, here, Feb. 10, in which Col. J. Richard Jordan III accepted command of the district.
Jordan succeeds Col. John Kem who commanded the district since May 2008. During his tenure, Kem strengthened partnerships, supported various commands, guided the district to a more technologically advanced working environment, and added innovative ways to better support the customers.
During the ceremony, Kem thanked his family, the partners, and the district in his farewell speech.
"I honestly have a mix of emotions standing here today and giving up the colors," said Kem. "On one hand, I'm grateful for the opportunity to speak publically and brag a little bit about the Europe District. On the other hand, I'm very sad to leave this wonderful district family. I'm can't imagine an organization that has such an eclectic mix of people that is so warm, so fun to lead, and so fun to be part of and I truly have been blessed to be at the command of what I think is the best district in the Army Corps of Engineers."
Presiding over the change of command was Brig. Gen. Peter "Duke" DeLuca, the commander and division engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, North Atlantic Division.
While speaking at the ceremony, DeLuca praised Kem for his inspiring leadership and vision which ensured the district superbly executed a program totaling over $2.1 billion. He said Kem strengthened relationships with the district's international partners. DeLuca also expressed his honor to have worked with Kem.
DeLuca presented Kem with the Legion of Merit for meritorious service and selfless dedication to duty that enhanced operational support in 93 countries.
In addition to the Legion of Merit, DeLuca presented Kem with the Silver Order of the de Fleury Medal from the Army Engineer Association on behalf of the Engineer Regiment.
The de Fleury Medal dates back to 1779 when the Continental Congress awarded a medal struck to honor, Lt. Col. de Fleury, a French engineer who volunteered to serve with the American Army during the Revolutionary War.
The Engineer Regiment adopted the de Fleury Medal as an award because of the values demonstrated by the man for whom it was struck. There are three levels of the de Fleury Medal, bronze, silver and gold.
In 2002, Kem's father, retired Army Maj. Gen. Richard "Sam" Kem, received the Gold Medal of the award.
Col. Kem is leaving the district to become the chief engineer for the NATO Training Mission and Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan in Kabul. While there, Kem will support the NATO Training Mission -Afghanistan and the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan missions by overseeing the construction of NATO training facilities throughout Afghanistan.
Jordan is the ninth commander since the district changed from being USACE Europe Division in 1992.
While accepting command, Jordan thanked DeLuca for allowing him the opportunity to have the privilege of command. Additionally, he thanked Kem for turning over an outstanding district.
"I know you turn it [the district] over with great sorrow," said Jordan to Kem. "But I accept it with great joy and I'll take care of it. I'm looking forward to taking you [the district] to the next step. "
Prior to assuming command, Jordan served as the Division Engineer of the 1st Armored Division, here, and at the U.S. Division - Center Baghdad, Iraq. While in Baghdad he advised the area commanding general on all aspects of engineering. Additionally, Jordan led a 30-person staff that synchronized all engineering, Geospatial Intelligence, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, and Improvised Explosive Device Defense operations within the division.
He commanded the Corps' Charleston District in South Carolina from 2007 to 2009 and was responsible for the implementation of the $1 billion Fort Jackson Military Construction program.
Jordan was commissioned in the Army July 1988 after earning a Bachelor of Science and Engineering degree from Princeton University.