JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Col. Andrew D. Kelly assumed command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Jacksonville District from Col. Jason Kirk today (Aug. 24) during a traditional Army ceremony held at The Times-Union Center in Jacksonville.
Brig. Gen. Diana Holland, Commanding General of the USACE South Atlantic Division in Atlanta, Georgia, officiated the ceremony and welcomed Kelly and his family to the district. Close to 1,000 staff members and guests attended the ceremony.
Maj. Joseph Sahl, Jacksonville District Deputy Commander, served as the master of ceremonies, while Mr. Tim Murphy, Deputy District Engineer for Program and Project Management, assisted with the Presentation of Colors, symbolizing the partnership between the district’s military and civilian workforce.
Holland praised the district and Kirk’s efforts during her remarks, saying many tough decisions and numerous contributions were made to bring normalcy back to Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Holland thanked the Jacksonville District team for the extraordinary service and sacrifice in 2017 and 2018, stating “A lesser team could not have delivered what was required.”
Holland also highlighted Kelly’s service, saying he comes to Jacksonville following a year-long deployment to Afghanistan, serving in a key position there. “Drew is not new to the Corps either, having served as the commander of the Walla Walla District. We are excited to have you on our team.”
Kelly thanked Kirk for his dedication and energy during the transition period. “You filled my head with three years of knowledge in about 10 days,” said Kelly. “Everyone I met expressed their hopes that I would continue what you’ve been doing so well these past few years. Keeping the communication lines open, staying mission focused, and most importantly – striving for solutions to the most complex challenges.”
Kelly also praised his wife, Sheila, for packing up the household and moving it to Florida while he was still in Afghanistan. “Moving down here, getting everything settled, so I can show up and hit the ground running — I definitely don’t thank you often enough. You are incredible.” He also thanked his teenage sons for their contributions and sacrifices.
The tradition of the Change of Command ceremony dates back to the passing of the scepter, which is a symbol of authority, from the old Caesar to the new, in the progression of the Roman Empire. The U.S. Army adopted the custom of the passing of the Colors from the British, and instituted it in the 18th century when General George Washington assumed command of the Continental Army in Boston on July 3, 1775. The ceremony symbolizes the passage of authority, responsibility and accountability.
The Color Guard was provided by the 146th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, Florida Army National Guard from Jacksonville, and music was provided by the Navy Band Southeast from Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
Release no. 18-065