Staff Sgt. Amber Robinson
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno presided over the U.S. Army Pacific change-of-command "Flying V" ceremony from Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski to Gen. Vincent K. Brooks on Palm Circle, Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
The event was a historical moment for U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) that formally transitioned to a four-star command July 2, symbolizing the continued rebalance for the United States in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the significance of today’s ceremony and the message of our commitment here is a clear message. It’s a clear message to the region, and we’re honored to be a part of it," Brooks said.
In addition to the traditional military pomp and circumstance of the ceremony, was a special honor presented to USARPAC by Irene Inouye, the widow of the late Hawaiian Senator Daniel K. Inouye.
Mrs. Inouye attended the ceremony and presented Odierno the Inouye Star, a crystal Eagle statue, which will be displayed at USARPAC headquarters, as a lasting tribute and reminder of her husband’s role in making USARPAC a four-star theater Army headquarters.
"My late husband felt that this fourth star was critical to our position in the Pacific," Mrs. Inouye said.
"What an honor it is to be on this historic field, where the U.S. Army’s presence in the Pacific has been evident every day for over a century," Brooks said.
"And while the challenges before us are numerous, I think the opportunities for us to make a difference for the Army and for this joint team are even more plentiful," Brooks noted.
Adding, "I’m honored to lead this command, keeping it available and responsive to the requirements that each of you set and the directives that each of you gives."
Wiercinski, who is retiring after 34 years of service and plans to make Hawaii his home, served as the USARPAC commander since March 2011, and told the audience his time served here "was a dream come true."
"Today is a great day for Pacific Command, the Army and for U.S. Army Pacific," Wiercinski said
Adding, "Commanding this unit has truly been an honor and something I will never forget."
Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, U.S. Pacific Command commander, bid a fond "Aloha" to Weircinski and his wife, Jeannine, and welcomed Brooks and his wife, Dr. Carol Brooks, into the military "Ohana."
"Ohana" means family in Hawaiian.
Wiercinski echoed that sentiment. "I have known General Brooks my entire adult life and know he is the right man for the job," he said.
Brooks expressed his gratitude to Wiercinski for his support and guidance during his transition into his new position.
He also thanked his soldiers, staff and international counterparts for their contributions now and in the future.
"Thank you in advance for the opportunities to work with you in the future," said Brooks.
Adding, "I’ll ask of you only one thing and that is to do your best every day. And I commit to you that Carol and I will do the same."