JACKSONVILLE — On Sept. 9, U.S. Army Col. James L. Booth took command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District during a change of command ceremony at the at the Terry Theater, Times Union Center, Jacksonville. He becomes the 61st commander of the district.
Booth comes to the Jacksonville District from the Combined Security Transition Command- Afghanistan where he served as the Engineer Branch Head and oversaw operations and maintenance support as well as construction oversight for Afghan National Defense and Security Forces infrastructure with an annual portfolio value in excess of $700 million.
As commander of the Jacksonville District, he assumes responsibility for managing the second largest civil works district in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with an area of responsibility that encompasses Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. The district provides quality planning, engineering, construction and operations products and services in environmental restoration, flood risk reduction, navigation, regulatory permits, hurricane and storm damage reduction, and emergency response and recovery.
During the change of command, the new commander highlighted the district’s incredible missions like COVID response, civil works, navigation, flood control and risk management, emergency management, regulatory and environmental responsibilities. He also noted the ongoing construction and work at the Herbert Hoover Dike Rehabilitation project and optimizing updates to the water control manual will govern operations at Lake Okeechobee, and lauded the great reputation of the entire Jacksonville District workforce.
Brigadier General Jason E. Kelly, Commanding General, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Atlantic Division, officiated the change of command and said Booth comes to the Jacksonville District with extensive experience having served in USACE commands previously.
He emphasized that Booth is a seasoned professional and talented engineer officer who he has watched afar in Detroit, Albuquerque and Afghanistan. He is a star with a deployment history and phenomenal reputation.
Kelly said the Jacksonville District has an enormous and distinct responsibility and we are here to recognize and thank these two exceptional colonels, Drew Kelly and Jamie Booth.”
“Welcome to the South Atlantic District… Jamie, Melissa, Evan Cali and Alex,” said Kelly.
The new commander expressed his appreciation to the division commander and Col. Andrew D. Kelly, Jr. for the incredible opportunity to command the Jacksonville District.
He thanked Kelly for the tremendous transition to the district over the last few weeks and recognized his mentors and other commanders who led him to the point he reached today. He especially thanked his, wife Melissa for her love and sacrifices over the years, and he expressed love, joy and pride for his children Evan, Cali and Alex. He also expressed sincere gratitude for his parents, father, mother and family from Florida, for their enduring commitment, support and unconditional love.
Booth is a native of Keystone Heights, Florida, he said the Keystone Heights community made him the man he is today and each played an essential part in his growth.
He received his U.S. Army commission in 1998 and his previous assignments include: Executive Officer to the Commanding General of the United States Army Corps of Engineers; District Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District; Deputy District Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District; Battalion Operations Officer and Executive Officer of the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, at Fort Stewart, Georgia (with deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.)
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (two awards), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (six awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal (two awards), Army Achievement Medal (five awards), National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the NATO Medal, the Combat Action Badge, the Parachutist Badge, and the Ranger Tab. He is also the recipient of the Army Engineer Association’s Bronze Order of the de Fleury Medal.
Booth holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology, a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology, and a Master of Arts in Strategy from the Army War College. Col. Booth is a graduate of the Ranger Course and Airborne School. He is also a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Engineer Officer Basic and Advanced courses, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Booth commended the outgoing commander, Col. Andrew D. Kelly, Jr., and the many district employees, partners, national organizations, contractors and soldiers.
“I have a lot to learn about the district operations, but I’m excited about the challenge, and confident that I am in good hands. I have been nothing less than impressed with your competence and professionalism. I consider it an incredible honor to be able to serve alongside every member of this great District Team,” said Booth.
Booth said he is pleased to see that Jacksonville District approaches every project, from mega projects to the routine, with passion, tenacity and close partnerships.
Brigadier General Jason E. Kelly highlighted a few successes during Kelly’s command.
“I’d like to share a few highlights from … what I’ll affectionately call… the Kelly administration,” Kelly said.
Col. Kelly led the district through the COVID pandemic, increased virtual access and maintained open and transparent communication with the workforce; He seized opportunities to revolutionize how the district does business and much innovation was encouraged. Kelly said he grew the business process and altered it to match the enormous growth of the program through leadership training; the Herbert Hoover Dike Rehabilitation project is nearing completion and we’re nearing the throes of optimizing the new water control manual and he has been a champion for the South Atlantic Division and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“I’m convinced that the success of an organization is very dependent on the leadership of its senior-most member,” said Kelly. “You’ve made a difference here and across the USACE enterprise and we are grateful.”
In saying farewell, Kelly lauded the Jacksonville District’s employees for supporting many Hurricanes that past through Florida and most recently Hurricane Ida.
He commended federal, state, local and tribal partners that work with the Corps daily to accomplish the missions.
“I am extremely grateful and humbled to have been the commander of the Jacksonville District,” Kelly said. “Over the last three years we’ve been through a lot and accomplished so much more than we ever thought possible.”
Kelly also thanked his wife Sheila for her continued love, support and strength through his tenure as commander, his mother from Syracuse, New York and also gave recognition to his two teen-aged sons for their support.
The Change of Command is a traditional ceremony that is rich in symbolism and military heritage. Passing the colors from the departing commander to the incoming commander emphasizes the continuity of leadership and unit identity, despite changes in individual authority. The ceremony also symbolizes the passage of responsibility from the departing commander to his successor.
Attendance at the Times Union Center was limited and video was livestreamed via Facebook and Youtube live due to COVID social distancing requirements.