It’s not often the Charleston District has a one-star general visit our office. It’s less often that we have a two-star general visit the office. It’s even less often we have a three-star general visit the office. Well, in one week in October, the District had all three.
Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, USACE Chief of Engineers, Maj. Gen. Mark Yenter, USACE Deputy Commanding General, and Brig. Gen. C. David Turner, South Atlantic Division Commander, all visited Charleston in the wake of Hurricane Matthew to tour projects and take a look at impacts from the storm, as well about hearing an update on our programs.
Semonite took command of the Corps earlier this year and this was his first visit to Charleston. He previously served as the South Atlantic Division commander, which the Charleston District falls under, so he has quite a bit of knowledge of our projects. Semonite spoke to Charleston District employees in a town hall setting to go over his vision for his new role. His overall mission was simple.
“I want us to be world-class engineers and set the standard,” said Semonite. “When we put a Corps Castle on things, I want it to stand for a world-class reputation.”
Semonite has always been a high-energy personality, encouraging his people to be aggressive with timelines in order to meet our customers’ needs. But he recognizes the need to do things properly.
“We have to be aggressive, but we have to be smart,” said Semonite. “I don’t want to promise anything that’s out of our control. The question I ask each of you is ‘How much can you help us get better?’”
Before leaving, Semonite was sure to point out something special to Charleston District employees about his time in Afghanistan, where he was responsible for building the Afghan Army and Police.
“Charleston is the only district that sent me anything while I was deployed,” said Semonite. “From care packages to holiday posters, I always felt at home. I want to thank you all as it made a big, big deal for me.”
Semonite’s visit was the second time the chief of engineers has visited Charleston this decade. The Charleston District plans to keep Semonite’s vision in mind going forward on all of our projects.