8th Army welcomes its new leader with laughter, cheers
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Hundreds of soldiers, civilians and other guests gathered to say farewell to 8th Army commander Lt. Gen. Charles C. Campbell during a change-of-command ceremony on Knight Field.
During the ceremony, USFK commander Gen. B.B. Bell passed the unit colors from Campbell to incoming commander Lt. Gen. David P. Valcourt. In the position, Valcourt also serves as the Chief of Staff for U.S. Forces Korea, the United Nations Command and the Combined Forces Command.
Bell thanked the general and his wife, Dianne, for their service in South Korea.
When Campbell took command, “his seasoning, confidence, inspired leadership, mission focus all fit masterfully in the complex military and political environment on the Korean peninsula,” Bell said. “Perhaps the most complex environment since the end of the Korean War hostilities.”
During turbulent times, “there were those who thought the Republic of Korea and U.S. alliance was in danger,” Bell said. Some believed the relationship had run its course and was a by-product of the Cold War, he added.
“They were all looking for leadership and a path to the future,” he said. And with Campbell, “the alliance not only survived, but my sense is, that it has emerged stronger and more resilient then ever.
“You have made a difference, sir, and we’re all better because of it,” Bell said.
Bell welcomed Valcourt and his wife, Diane, with a story about how Valcourt was on the links within 18 hours of arriving back in South Korea.
“Instead of meeting with me when I called him, I found out he was on the golf course,” Bell said to laughter. “True story.”
But not only is Valcourt a great golfer, Bell said, he’s a superb officer with a distinguished career.
“We welcome the experience and insight this warrior-leader brings to 8th Army, USFK and CFC,” Bell said. “And Diane, we also welcome you and thank you for your commitment to the force and to this mission.
“While the faces may change, as we’ve seen today,” Bell said, “the mission remains constant: Deter North Korean aggression and, if necessary, defend this land from attack. In pursuit of this mission we can, we will, and indeed we must ‘go on’ together.”
Campbell said when he took command 3½ years ago, he asked 8th Army soldiers to master their craft, have pride in the colors, obey their orders, be loyal to their leaders and be friends to their comrades.
“You, and those who have preceded you, did exactly as I asked,” Campbell said. “No commander could have been better served. Thank you for your selfless service, for your commitment, your dedication, your confidence and your loyalty.”
Valcourt stressed that the 8th Army’s priorities will remain sharply focused.
And he joked with the troops as he wrapped up the hourlong ceremony.
“Soldiers, I can sense your energy to get off this field and get back to soldiering,” he said.