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Gen. Peter Schoomaker, right, and Col. Robert Pricone inspecting the troop formation during the Army change of command ceremony Tuesday at Fort Meyer, Va. Gen. George W. Casey Jr. was named the 36th Chief of Staff at the Army during the event.
Gen. Peter Schoomaker, right, and Col. Robert Pricone inspecting the troop formation during the Army change of command ceremony Tuesday at Fort Meyer, Va. Gen. George W. Casey Jr. was named the 36th Chief of Staff at the Army during the event. (Tom Mani / U.S. Army)

ARLINGTON, Va. — Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker handed the reins of the service over to Gen. George W. Casey Jr. on Tuesday in a pomp-filled ceremony at Fort Myer, Va.

The “change of responsibility” ceremony also marked the second retirement of Schoomaker from the Army.

After spending more than 30 years mostly in the special operations community, Schoomaker had left the service to become a rancher in Wyoming when then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked him to return to active duty in 2003 to head the force.

Throughout his tenure as the Army’s 35th chief of staff, Schoomaker often referred to his presence during the failed Iranian hostage rescue mission in 1980, which cost the lives of eight Special Forces soldiers.

In a farewell message to the troops sent Army-wide April 9, Schoomaker reminded soldiers that he keeps a photo of the carnage from that mission “to remind me of the grief and failure of that mission and the commitment survivors of that operation made to a different future.”

“Having now been in this Army for almost four decades, and having seen the Army my father served in for 32 years before that, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that today’s battle-hardened Army does, in fact, reflect the different ‘future’ we envisioned,” Schoomaker wrote.

Casey served in Iraq as the senior coalition commander in Iraq from June 2004 to February 2007 before being nominated as the 36th Army chief of staff.

Prior to that, he served as vice chief of staff of the Army, director of the Joint Staff, and commander of the 1st Armored Division from July 1999 to July 2001.

“The quality of our men and women in uniform is the best I have seen in my 36 years in service,” Casey said during Tuesday’s ceremony. “They epitomize what is best about America.”

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