MADISON, Ala. (Aug. 7, 2012) -- Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno and Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd Austin, were in attendance at the promotion ceremony for Lt. Gen. Dennis L. Via, U.S. Army Materiel Command's deputy commanding general, at the Bob Jones auditorium here, Aug. 7.
Later in the day Via took command of Army Materiel Command, known as AMC.
Presiding over the ceremony, Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, U.S. Army Materiel Command's outgoing commanding general, thanked all in attendance and described the event as a momentous occasion for the Army.
In addition, Dunwoody received thunderous applause from the crowd upon acknowledging what this promotion means to the Signal Corps.
"For those of you who may not know, one of the reasons this is such a historic day for our Army, is that Lieutenant General Via is the first-ever signal officer in the history of the Army to ever be promoted to a four-star (general)," said Dunwoody.
She went on to recount the numerous challenging assignments Via held throughout his career, from the commander of the 82nd Airborne Signal Battalion, to the commander of the 3rd Signal Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas, where he was also dual-hatted as the III Corps G6.
"I have learned when you have a guy as talented as Dennis you just don't want to waste him on one job," joked Dunwoody.
Dunwoody shared her thoughts on what Via will bring to Army Materiel Command, known as AMC, and the Army.
"He has a caring personal leadership style that brings out the best in everyone. From the youngest private to the most senior officers, he has an absolute commitment to the highest standards of this Army's profession, and has the wisdom and the vision to see how the future can be different and better," said Dunwoody.
With his wife Linda and sons Brian and Bradley by his side, Via took to the podium to thank his predecessor.
"Thank you for presiding at our promotion ceremony and I say our promotion ceremony because I clearly realize today is a shared celebration of personal investments made by many people in Dennis Via throughout my life and career of service in the United States Army," said Via.
A Martinsville, Va., native, Via was commissioned May 18, 1980, in the Signal Corps after graduating as a Distinguished Military Graduate from Virginia State University. He later earned a Master's Degree from Boston University, and is a graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.
With heartfelt gratitude, Via took a moment to thank mentors, peers, family and friends, many of whom traveled extensively to be a part of the celebration.
A strong advocate of education, Via closed the ceremony by thanking his high school teacher and Army veteran Edward L. Fontaine for his support over the years. Via credits Fontaine with starting him on his Army career and working with Virginia State University guidance counselors to get Via enrolled as a freshman.
"Mister Fontaine epitomizes that one person can make a difference in your life. I tell that story because it's not about me today, it is about the impact all of us can make on someone in our lives," said Via.
Via will serve as the 18th commanding general of AMC.