New local Corps commander installed during ceremony
HUNTINGTON -- The government shutdown wasn't enough to stop the installation of a new commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District, during a ceremony Friday morning at the Cabell County Public Library.
More than 100 corps employees, who are working during the shutdown, attended the event, which was scaled back from its usual pomp and circumstance by organizers who were looking to contain costs, said Brian Maka, public affairs officer for the district.
U.S. Army Col. Leon Parrott was installed as the commander for the district, which includes 311 miles of the Ohio River and 45,000 square miles of land in five states: West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina.
"I'm honored to have the chance to be a part of this team," said Parrott. "I look to earn my place on this team."
Parrott replaces U.S. Army Col. Steven McGugan, who was relieved of his duties in late August, amid an investigation into allegations of misconduct by the officer.
Maka said he could not comment on the investigation, as it is being conducted by the U.S. Army and not the Corps of Engineers.
Adding to the unusual circumstances of the event was the government shutdown, which meant that 450 employees of the Huntington District were at home due to the furlough from the shutdown as the ceremony took place.
Maka said the 300 district employees whose jobs were deemed critical to the district's 35 flood-reduction projects have continued to report to work during the shutdown.
"We have to look at life security and property risk as the critical facets of our operations that we are not going to let atrophy," said Maka. "We're all adjusting, but one of the things about this district is that our employees are resilient. Our folks have worked hard and adapted to the challenges."
Parrott said he was ready to help the district adapt to those challenges during the ceremony Friday. He noted the district's superior reputation, and he thanked his wife, Judy, and daughter, Olivia, whom he referred to as "the locks in the river of my life."
Parrott comes to Huntington following a short assignment as the Corps Engineer of the 18th Airborne Corps in Ft. Bragg, N.C.
He graduated from the Citadel in 1988 with a bachelor of science in civil engineering, and he also holds an M.B.A and a masters degree in strategic studies.
He also has received several awards including three awards of the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Serve Medal, seven awards of the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, three awards of the Army Commendation Medal, two awards of the Army Achievement Medal, the Combat Action Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, the Air Assault Badge and the Pathfinder Badge.