Today, at the Huntington City Hall Auditorium, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District conducted a change of command ceremony. Col. Philip Secrist transferred command of the District to Lt. Col. William Miller. The ceremony was presided over by Brig. Gen. Mark Toy, Commanding General of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The custom of acknowledging a change in commanding officers emphasizes the continuity of leadership and unit identity; despite changes in individual authority, it symbolizes the transfer of command responsibility from one individual to another. This transfer is physically represented by the passing of the colors; the tangible symbol of the unit, from the outgoing commander to the senior commander and then to the new commander.
During the ceremony letters of appreciation were delivered from the offices of Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito. A flag flown over the U.S. Capitol was presented by the office of Congressman Hal Rogers. Huntington Mayor Steve Williams declared it "Colonel Philip Secrist Day in Huntington to honor the outstanding leadership that he demonstrated as the Huntington District Commander."
Brig. Gen. Toy called the Huntington District "A thriving team of nationally-respected, values-driven professionals collaboratively pioneering solutions to our Nation's toughest challenges that thrived under the leadership of Col. Secrist."
Lt. Col. Miller has been the Huntington District Deputy Commander since July 2017. began his Army career enlisting as an Infantryman in 1991. His assignments include: machine gunner and driver in a reserve battalion of the 6th Infantry Division (Light); a duty assignment with the 82nd Airborne Division from 1997 -- 2000; Sapper Platoon Leader in C/307th En Bn (Airborne); Construction Platoon Leader in the 618th En Co (Light Equipment) (Airborne); 2nd Infantry Division in Korea; Logistics Officer and later Commander at Camp Howze for the 44th En Bn; Dredging Operations Project Engineer and a Project Manager at the US Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District; Resident Engineer in the Gulf Region South District in Najaf Province; Transportation and Communications Construction Manager for Southern Iraq in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM; participated in the USACE response to Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, Katrina and Rita; Engineer for the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Ft. Bragg, NC, where he managed construction of a $320 million compound of infrastructure, and ranges totaling over 1 million square feet at Eglin AFB, Fla.; Engineer for the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force -- Afghanistan in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM; Security Transition Team Advisor for the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) 25th Infantry Division at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM; 20th Engineer Brigade Executive Officer at Fort Bragg, NC; Aide-de-Camp for the Commander, XVIII Airborne Corps / ISAF Joint Command supporting OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan; and Chief of Construction of a $1.2 billion program for the US Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, NC.
Lt. Col. Miller was commissioned after graduating from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1996. He completed the Engineer Captain's Career Course and earned his Masters in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri-Rolla. He graduated the Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
His awards and decorations include: the Bronze Star Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with four bronze campaign stars, Iraq Campaign Medal with one bronze campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with "3" device and the NATO Service Medal.
The Huntington District encompasses 45,000 square miles in parts of five states, including West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina. It is responsible for 311 navigable miles along the Ohio River and 98 navigable miles on the Kanawha River and includes the Nation's second largest Inland Waterway port, the Port of Huntington. In the most recent year of data available, more than 259 million tons of commodities valued at more than $17 billion passed through our locks and dams on the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers amounting to more than 28,528 lockages. The locks and dams built and operated by the Corps make efficient year-round navigation transportation possible not only in the Tri-State area, but across the nation.
The Huntington District employs more than 950 people. The District's program includes the operation and maintenance of nine locks and dams on the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers, 35 flood damage reduction projects and dredging on the Ohio, Big Sandy and Kanawha Rivers. In addition, riverfront improvements, flood risk management initiatives, environmental mitigation, and infrastructure activities make up the District's robust Civil Works program.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the leading supplier of water based recreation opportunities in the nation. The Huntington District is a leader in this aspect of the Corps' missions with approximately 27 million visits annually at our 35 lake and 9 lock and dam projects. Our project's volunteers provide over $1.8 million in services annually supporting the recreation and environmental stewardship missions. Our District's Summersville Lake provides whitewater recreational releases during fall drawdown. The 23 days of releases in September and October provide an estimated economic benefit to the community of $1 million per day.
The environmental infrastructure program provides design and construction assistance to non-Federal interests, including nonprofit entities, for carrying out water related environmental infrastructure and resource protection and development projects in southern and central West Virginia, eastern and southern Kentucky and Ohio including projects for wastewater treatment and related facilities; water supply, storage, treatment, and distribution facilities; surface water resource protection and development; and environmental restoration.
Huntington District has two centers of expertise at the district, the Planning Center of Expertise for Inland Navigation and Risk Informed Economics Division (PCXIN-RED) and The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Dam Safety Modification Mandatory Center of Expertise (DSMMCX) and Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Dam Safety Production Center (DSPC).
The Huntington District's Regional Rivers Repair Fleet (R3F) provides the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division the ability to execute major maintenance and repair efforts along 2,225 miles of the Alleghany, Clinch, Cumberland, Green, Kanawha, Monongahela, Tennessee, and Ohio Rivers on 56 Navigation Locks and Dams, 4 Hydroelectric Power Plants, and 74 Flood Risk Management Dams across the 7 states of Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Indiana, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.