GALVESTON, Texas (July 20, 2017) – The month of June was filled with so many challenging and exciting events that it blew by before I knew it. First, the Galveston District celebrated the Corps’ and U.S. Army’s 242nd birthday with an awards ceremony on 14 June to recognize an Employee, Engineer, Regulator, Innovator, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Volunteer, and Supervisor of the Year, as well as to honor staff for their contributions to the community, state and nation. We also recognized our newest member of the Distinguished Gallery.
This was a significant event as it allowed us to reflect on the hard work and achievements of our predecessors, to celebrate our heritage and to acknowledge the people who make this organization great. This celebration honored you, our civilians and Soldiers, for your professionalism and resiliency in support of our great Nation.
Our annual congressional visits to Washington, D.C. the week of 19-23 June were also a huge success. We met with leadership/staff from 14 of the 16 Congressional Districts within our boundaries and 12 actual Members of Congress. We were able to provide status updates to critical projects as well as articulate how critical our role is in bringing value to the Nation. I want to thank all who were involved in packaging briefing materials that proved to be an effective tool in delivering succinct, clear and important information to our decision-makers on the Hill.
Observances and events which recognize the assorted backgrounds that comprise the District are very important. On May 31, we celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I want to again, thank everyone who put together the program as it was a first class event. We were able not only to learn about the various cultures within this diverse group, but also how to prepare and enjoy some of their culinary delights.
Additionally, on June 19, I had the pleasure of participating in the 152nd anniversary of Juneteenth at the Ashton Villa on Galveston Island, Texas, the actual location where the proclamation was first read in 1865. This event marked the first day of freedom for many African Americans in Texas, but was more than two years after President Lincoln had signed the executive order (January 1, 1863).
I want to sincerely thank each of you for your continued dedicated efforts to support our critical missions and projects under the dynamic conditions we face every day in Coastal Texas. Of particular note is the re-establishment of our Contracting Office. Through your hard work and diligence, we were able to convince the SWD Commanding General and the Regional Command Council to provide us once again with our own organic contracting capability and capacity! This will pay huge dividends, as we execute future contracts and continue already established programs.
Next, I would like extend a hearty welcome to our new Division Commander, Col. Paul E. Owen. Prior to taking command of the Southwestern Division, Col. Owen served as the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C. He also commanded the New York District and the Afghanistan District, so he understands how we at the District level operate.
I would also like to welcome our new Deputy Commander, Lt. Col. Jay T. Luckritz. Lt. Col. Luckritz comes to us from his last assignment as Facilities & Construction Chief for U.S. Army Africa (USARAF) in Vicenza, Italy.
This District is made up of some amazing people and I’m humbled and honored to serve with you. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience that exists in this building and in the field offices, so I challenge all my senior leaders to take on the task of mentoring our young leaders so that they will be ready when called to take the helm.
Again, it’s incredible what we’re doing along the Texas coast. Whether it’s responding to natural crises or providing technical assistance to our state and local partners, you continue to maintain the great reputation that the District has enjoyed for over 137 years!
Col. Lars Zetterstrom, P.E. District Commander,