579th gets new leader ahead of deployment

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 14, 2010

The 579th Engineer Detachment has a new commander.

Col. Richard W. Dean takes the place of Lt. Col. Sam Jaynes Jr., the detachment’s first commander since it was reactivated in 2007 after nearly 20 years of dormancy. The 579th is gearing up for deployment in April to Afghanistan, said the announcement from Mark Abueg, public affairs officer for the 579th.

“It’s an honor…to serve with these talented soldiers and civilians,” said Dean, who assumed command March 1. “I have every confidence that we will be ready and able to meet the demanding missions placed upon the team, whether we face a declared national emergency or overseas contingency operation.”

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The 579th is one of two Forward Engineer Support Team units of the Army that aids engineer commands, such as the Vicksburg-based 412th, at the start of missions, including natural disasters and overseas war-fighting. The other is the Fort Knox-based 533rd Engineer Detachment.

Dean, 50, comes to Vicksburg from his native Washington, D.C., where he served as the primary adviser in Army Reserve engineer issues to Lt. Gen. Robert L. Van Antwerp, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

He has two master’s degrees, one in systems management from the University of Southern California and another in forest products from the University of Idaho. He has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from Purdue University.

Dean believes he can serve the 579th through “a combination of my construction experience, contracting experience, deployment experience and my experience in the Army.”

Located in the Corps’ Vicksburg District building on East Clay Street, the 36-member 579th reports to Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Mississippi Valley Division.

Contact Tish Butts at tbutts@vicksburgpost.com