Brig. Gen. Crear takes MVD-MRC

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 24, 2004

Mississippi Valley Division outgoing commander Brig. Gen. Don T. Riley, left, smiles as Brig. Gen. Robert Crear speaks at a change-of-command ceremony Wednesday.(Jon Giffin The Vicksbutg Post)

[6/24/04]It was another welcome home for Vicksburg native Robert Crear as he took over command Wednesday of the Mississippi Valley Division and the Mississippi River Commission.

Crear served as commander of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Vicksburg District from 1998 until 2001 and has served in Washington, Dallas and Iraq since.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

His return is with the rank of brigadier general and in a role to direct Corps work all along the Mississippi River.

“It is a great day to be a soldier in the service of a great nation at war,” Crear said in a packed meeting room at the 412th Engineer Command’s headquarters building. “It is an understatement to say this is a significant day in the career of the Crear family.”

Crear was joined at the ceremony by his wife, Reatha, and their four children. He noted that he and his wife have been married 35 years and this is the 14th move they have made to a new duty assignment.

“There will be a lot of people I will be grateful to for making this day possible,” Crear said.

After growing up in Vicksburg, Crear became an engineer and joined the Army’s branch that is primarily dedicated to civil works, including flood control and navigation.

After his previous command post at the Vicksburg District, which reports to the Mississippi Valley Division, he served a tour at Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C. He then received his first divisional command at the Southwest Division in Dallas. While in that post, he was tapped to command the Corps of Engineers efforts to put out fires set on Iraqi oil wells and to restore production of crude oil in that country in the wake of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

In Wednesday’s change-of-command ceremony at the George A. Morris Readiness Center on Porters Chapel Road, Crear took over as the 36th MVD-MRC leader from Brig. Gen. Don T. Riley, who is leaving Vicksburg for Corps headquarters, where he will be director of civil works. Presiding officer at the ceremony was Lt. Gen. Robert B. Flowers, chief of engineers.

Crear thanked Flowers for picking him to command the Division and commission. “It is not often that a soldier gets a chance to serve his country at home,” he continued.

But, Crear said, he needed to thank many more people, ranging from his late mother and grandmother to his teachers to friends and other relatives who taught him such traits as working in a group, commitment, giving back, discipline and respect for elders.

“The hardworking people of our community made such a lasting impression on me as a young kid,” he said. “They were uncommon in their ability to create opportunities for their children under very dire circumstances. Their only thought was to ensure their children had a better life than they did.”

During the ceremony, Flowers presented to Riley the Army’s Distinguished Service Medal and the Silver de Fleury Medal, the highest award presented by the Corps regiment to a Corps officer.

Those awards were accompanied by a certificate of appreciation presented to Riley’s wife, Roslyn.

Flowers said it was great to be in Vicksburg and, in his last act as chief of engineers, to officiate at the change of command for a key division in the Corps.

“None more key than the Mississippi Valley Division and the Mississippi River Commission,” he said.

Flowers went on to thank Riley for his service.

“He has been an outstanding leader and his contributions to the division and the Mississippi River Commission are many,” Flowers said.

Turning to Crear, Flowers said the division is getting a great leader.

“He did a tremendous job in his most recent assignment as commander of the Southwestern Division,” Flowers said.

In just the past couple of days, a major task was accomplished in Iraq when the pipeline from northern Iraq oil fields to ports in Turkey was reopened. Insurgents had damaged the pipeline last month is an apparent attempt to cut off the Iraqi interim government’s source of reconstruction revenue.

In his comments following the passing of the Corps flag symbolizing the transfer of command, Riley told Flowers he had an advantage when he became MVD-MRC commander. He has the example set by Flowers to guide him in the early days of his command.

Riley then turned to the civilian employees of the division and commission, saying they represented the permanence of the Corps.