‘Tropic Lightning’ welcomes its new commander

| April 19, 2012 | 0 Comments
(Left to right) Lt. Gen. Frank Wiercinski, commander, U.S. Army-Pacific; Maj. Gen. Bernard Champoux, outgoing commander, 25th ID; and Maj. Gen. Kurt Fuller, incoming commander, 25th ID, return after passing the colors at the division’s change of command on Weyand Field, Schofield Barracks, April 5. (Staff Sgt. William Sallette | 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

(Left to right) Lt. Gen. Frank Wiercinski, commander, U.S. Army-Pacific; Maj. Gen. Bernard Champoux, outgoing commander, 25th ID; and Maj. Gen. Kurt Fuller, incoming commander, 25th ID, return after passing the colors at the division’s change of command on Weyand Field, Schofield Barracks, April 5. (Staff Sgt. William Sallette | 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Sgt. 1st Class Joe Battle
25th Infantry Division Public Affairs

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Hundreds of “Tropic Lightning” Soldiers from every element of the 25th Infantry Division marched onto Weyand Field, here, April 5, to ceremoniously and personally say goodbye to a seasoned leader and to welcome another.

Before a crowd of fellow Soldiers, community leaders, veterans, friends and families, Maj. Gen. Bernard Champoux relinquished command to Maj. Gen. Kurt Fuller during the 25th ID’s change of command ceremony.

Troops from a variety of units assemble for the 25th ID change of command on Weyand Field, Schofield Barracks. (Sgt. Karl Williams | 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs ,25th Infantry Division)

Troops from a variety of units assemble for the 25th ID change of command on Weyand Field, Schofield Barracks. (Sgt. Karl Williams | 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division)

To begin his remarks to the 25th ID, Champoux spoke highly of the character ingrained in the Soldiers he has served with, both while deployed and when at home.

“The ethos of the Soldiers before you could not be more plainly, nor powerfully captured,” he said. “With all their brothers and sisters in the Army, including all of their sister services — active, Guard and Reserve — they are less than 1 percent of America’s population.

“They do a lot and are willing to do even more,” he continued. “Although not always perfect, they define, live and, at times, export what is best about America and the character of Americans … tough, dedicated, faithful, determined, principled, fearless and compassionate.”

Champoux also recognized and declared his appreciation of the families of the Tropic Lightning Division and their support to which he said was essential to the success of the division’s missions.

“We acknowledge and appreciate that you also serve and that you are a critical part of our service; we are humbled by your selflessness and by how you handle the many sacrifices,” Champoux said to the families. “We simply couldn’t do it without you, but more importantly, we wouldn’t want to do it without you.”

Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th ID, fire a cannon salute to render honors to Champoux and Fuller. (Sgt. Karl Williams | 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division)

Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th ID, fire a cannon salute to render honors to Champoux and Fuller. (Sgt. Karl Williams | 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division)

Champoux has commanded the 25th ID since Feb. 19, 2010.

He has led the division through combat deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. He was also the last U.S. division commander on the ground in Iraq.

As such, he was directly responsible for overseeing operational-level command and control needed to facilitate the historical withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq in compliance with the 2008 Security Agreement. The security agreement called for the withdrawal all U.S. combat troops by the end of 2011.

During his opening remarks, Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, commander, U.S. Army-Pacific, defined the way Champoux handled and accomplished the historic task of drawing all U.S. forces out of Iraq by proclaiming to the crowd, “No one else could have done it better than he did.”

Before commanding the 25th ID, Champoux held previous positions within the division. He served as the assistant division commander for Operations, and commander, 1st Battalion, 27th Inf. Regiment “Wolfhounds,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

Wiercinski (right) passes the colors of the 25th ID to Fuller, incoming commander, while Champoux, outgoing commander, looks on. (Staff Sgt. William Sallette | 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Wiercinski (right) passes the colors of the 25th ID to Fuller, incoming commander, while Champoux, outgoing commander, looks on. (Staff Sgt. William Sallette | 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

When the division deployed to Afghanistan, he served as the deputy commanding general for Operations, Combined Joint Task Force 76.

Champoux later returned to Afghanistan and served as both deputy commander for Security, and deputy chief of staff for Operations, International Security and Assistance Force.

Champoux’s next assignment is to serve as the assistant chief of staff of the United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/U.S. Forces Korea and deputy commanding general of 8th U.S. Army in Korea.

“All right. I’m done … literally,” Champoux announced, jokingly, to the crowd. “Thank you for all you do and have done for these Soldiers, our families and this division. And thank you for your faithful service, love, support and friendship. It has been an honor of a lifetime to serve in your ranks and to wear the Tropic Lightning patch.

“Mahalo nui loa. Malama Pono. Ke akua pu … A hui hou — Tropic Lightning!” Champoux concluded.

After his remarks, Champoux turned to his successor, gave a firm handshake and turned control of the podium to Fuller. Fuller comes to the 25th ID from Fort Bragg, N.C., where he served as the deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

“We couldn’t be happier to be here,” Fuller announced to the crowd and Soldiers in formation. “I am honored and humbled to assume the duties as your commanding general and pledge my full commitment. Tropic Lightning!”

 

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