HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (April 18, 2019) – It was standing room only at the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Chan Auditorium as a new commander took over the leadership and direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, April 18.
Lt. Col. H. W. Hugh Darville accepted command from Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, chief of engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, during the ceremony.
Darville had served as deputy commander of Huntsville Center since 2017. Less than six months after assuming those duties, Darville deployed for more than 10 months to Southwest Asia. Now, he will serve as the Center’s commander until Semonite’s selection for command of the Center, Col. Marvin Griffin, is available for duty in the fall. Griffin is currently deployed in support of efforts in Southwest Asia.
“Hugh is really a proven leader. He has that depth, and he knows how things work,” Semonite said, addressing the crowd of more than 300 Center employees and guests.
“We pulled him out of the Center and sent him to Task Force Essayons to support our Soldiers in Kuwait and Iraq, and he did a phenomenal job,” Semonite added. “He’s also served at Headquarters [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers], so he understands Washington D.C. He has all the technical confidence and credentials, and he’s going to be great.”
During his speech to the audience, Darville thanked Semonite for the opportunity to serve as commander of the Center.
“Over the last year and a half I’ve gotten to know many of the people working at the Center, and you can be confident that they will solve any engineering problems and you can count on me to assist them as they accomplish the mission while providing outstanding support to our important stakeholders,” Darville said.
Although the ceremony focus was the change of command, the ceremony also offered an opportunity for Semonite to lead Center employees and staff in celebrating the upcoming retirement of the Center’s outgoing commander, Col. John Hurley.
Hurley served as the Center’s commander since June 2016.
Semonite recounted Hurley’s career and thanked him for his service as a Soldier and an engineer.
“Throughout his entire career, John demonstrated an ability to find solutions. His guidance leaves a legacy of accomplishments that enabled the Corps to successfully execute countless projects and programs,” Semonite said.
“John’s leadership and foresight and expert guidance really enabled your organization [Huntsville Center] to successfully support all the sister districts and a multitude of stakeholders. You’re a leader of superior integrity and technical competence, and you really have been a cornerstone of some complex projects,” he said.
“Your legacy over the last 30 years is not what you have done, but the spark you lit to inspire all of those who have served with you,” Semonite added.
Hurley, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, has served in several capacities as an Army engineer including commander of Japan District (2013-2016) and Buffalo District (2006-2008), and deputy commander of the Corps’ Transatlantic Division as the lead design and construction agent for the Department of Defense in the 20 countries in the Middle East from Egypt through Pakistan.
During his farewell speech, Hurley said the breadth of the Huntsville Center is “staggering,” and he was honored to have commanded the organization.
However, Hurley said one thing he took most from his command is how the Center’s mission supports the nation’s military.
“It’s always about the warfighter.” Hurley said. “There’s a warfighter out there somewhere who is waiting for us to deliver our product.”
Hurley also took the opportunity to thank his wife and four children for their support during his career.
“I couldn’t have done it without you,” he said.
U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center (Huntsville Center) is a major element of USACE supporting Department of Defense and other government agencies worldwide. More than 1,000 employees from various program and project management, engineering and support disciplines work at the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and its offices in Omaha, Nebraska, and Alexandria, Virginia. Huntsville Center’s obligations totaled more than $3 billion in fiscal year 2018.