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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2015  08:03:19 PM

OTC commander earns first star

Email   Print   Share By Rachel Parks, Sentinel Staff
March 8, 2012 | News
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Newly promoted Brig. Gen. Laura Richardson, OTC commander, receives her one-star general officer flag from III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General Lt. Gen. Don Campbell Jr. during her promotion ceremony Friday in front of III Corps Headquarters. Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Staff
Surrounded by Family, friends and members of the Fort Hood community, Col. Laura Richardson, the Operational Test Command commander, was promoted to the rank of brigadier general Friday afternoon in front of III Corps Headquarters.

Lieutenant Gen. Don Campbell Jr., III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, hosted the event and began his comments by thanking the crowd for attending the historic promotion.

“As most of you know, March is Women’s History Month,” he said. “ … Today we are not looking back on history, today we are making history.”

Richardson became the first female commander of OTC in July 2011. Her promotion to brigadier general makes her one of 29 currently serving female general officers in the Army.

During the ceremony, Richardson’s parents and parents-in-law replaced her colonel epaulets with the one-star insignia, and her daughter, Lauren, replaced the rank on her mother’s beret. Her husband, Brig. Gen. Jim Richardson, watched the ceremony via a video teleconference. He is currently deployed to Afghanistan as the 1st Cavalry Division’s Deputy Commanding General for Support.

When Richardson took the podium, she thanked her Family, friends and co-workers for their love and support over the years.

“A promotion is not about one person,” she said. “It’s about the people who helped you along the way. It’s about the people who taught you the skills to be successful. It’s about the people who taught you how to be a leader; it’s about the people who taught you how to be humble and gracious.”

She shared a heartfelt thank you with her daughter, calling Lauren the “principal achievement” in her life. She also spoke directly to her husband.

“Jim, thank you for everything you do,” Richardson said. “You’re a warrior and an exceptional father and husband, and I love you with all my heart. I miss you and look forward to you coming home soon.”

As part of the ceremony, Richardson was presented with two special items reserved for members of the general officer corps. She was given a one-star flag and a general officer belt by Campbell. Richardson also received a general officer sidearm, although it was not presented at the promotion ceremony.

Campbell gave a brief history of each item, and used the sidearm to illustrate the relatively small number of officers who are promoted to the ranks of general. The general officer sidearm was introduced shortly after World War II.

“Each of these unique weapons are produced individually and specifically for the receiving general officer,” he said. “Records show that to date there have only been 650 such arms issued.”

But Campbell also said the flag, the sidearm and the belt are merely symbols of the office.

“Laura, in my eyes, these artifacts only serve to signal what anyone who has worked with you already knows. You have been doing the work of a general officer for quite some time.”

He continued, “Laura, you have lived up to every OTC creed. You understand that OTC’s ultimate customer is the Soldier – our sons and daughters. They will judge our efforts with their lives and their mission accomplishments … you are everything the Army needs in a general officer.”

While Richardson kept her remarks brief, she also thanked her team at OTC, which encompasses several directorates here and at other Army installations.

“To my Operational Test Command team, I am so proud to be your commander,” she said. “You do incredible things every day so that the Army can field critical war fighting systems to our Soldiers.”

To conclude her remarks, Richardson implored the crowd to remember the men and women who are still deployed and fighting for freedom.

“Thank you all so much for coming, and please keep our deployed Soldiers and their Families in your thoughts and prayers,” she said before the crowd gave her a standing ovation.

Richardson is the second female general officer in the history of the Great Place. She was preceded by Maj. Gen. Jeanette Edmunds, the commander of the 64th Corps Support Group in the mid-1990s.

Richardson has served in a variety of capacities in her service to the nation, including the commander of 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment at Fort Campbell, Ky., the garrison commander of Fort Myer, Va., and the Army’s Liaison Officer to the U.S. Senate.
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