USACE Galveston District welcomes new colonel

Published July 9, 2013

GALVESTON, Texas (July 9, 2013) – Col. Christopher W. Sallese passed the command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District to Col. Richard P. Pannell during a change of command ceremony today at the USACE Galveston District’s Jadwin Building in Galveston, Texas.

USACE Southwestern Division Commander Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Kula presided over the ceremony.

“It is an honor to be here during this special occasion," said Kula. “This day symbolizes the strength of the past with the hope and promise of a continued successful future. Chris will never be able to count the number of Soldiers’ lives he has touched throughout his career and I thank him for his great service to our nation.”

Kula thanked Sallese’s family for their continued support during his three-year tour as the commanding officer of the district and the staff who are instrumental in the continued success of the organization.

"As we turn to the future, I want to welcome Rich and his family to the district,” said Kula. “He is the perfect choice to command this district and I have no doubt about the great history you will write under his leadership.”

Pannell expressed gratitude to outgoing commander Sallese for his service to the district and nation. Sallese in turn recognized the workforce for their professionalism and endurance during many challenges and also acknowledged the critical role the district’s partners and sponsors played in the command’s achievements throughout its history.

“I am honored to serve as the new Galveston District commander,” said Pannell. “My family and I are humbled by the presence of so many in attendance and are proud that we’re able to continue to serve the U.S. Army and nation here along the Texas coast.”

As district commander, Sallese led the USACE Galveston District through some of the most demanding years in the district’s history, which were marked by a significant reduction in funding. His contributions had a direct positive impact in keeping the nation's top ranked navigation and commercial waterways and ports open for business; projects that encompass 1,000 miles of channels, 28 international ports and 700 miles of coastline. 

“You all, the Custodians of the Coast, have truly earned a special place in the history of this district and will certainly be remembered as public servants who answered the call of duty,” said Sallese. “I cannot thank you enough for all you have done for this command during my time here. I am incredibly appreciative for your selfless service to our nation.”

Prior to assuming command of the Galveston District, Pannell served as the Corps engineer for the III Armored Corps at Fort Hood, Texas since July 2012.

Originally from Athens, Ga., Pannell graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire in 1985 and attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where he received his commission in the USACE in 1989.

Pannell’s military service highlights include deputy commander, 18th Engineer Brigade, Heidelberg, Germany (2008-2011); commander, 7th Engineer Battalion, Fort Drum, N.Y. (2006-2008); battalion S3 and executive officer, 9th Engineer Battalion, Schweinfurt, Germany (2003-2005); commander, A Company and C Company, 554th Engineer Battalion, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. (1994-1997) and platoon leader, 2nd Platoon, A Company, 307th Engineer Battalion, Fort Bragg, N.C. (1990-1991).

Other significant assignments include senior engineer observer/controller at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany (2005-2006) and instructor/assistant professor in the Geography and Environmental Engineering Department at West Point (1999-2002) where he taught courses in climatology, geomorphology and physical geography.

Pannell’s overseas service includes three tours in Germany and three combat tours in the Middle East for operations Desert Shield/Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom II and Operation Iraqi Freedom 8-10.

Pannell earned a Master of Science in Water Resources Management from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Science in Geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also has a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. Pannell’s military education consists of the Engineer Officer Basic and Advanced courses, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (3), Meritorious Service Medal (5), Army Commendation Medal (2), Combat Action Badge, Senior Parachutist Badge, Sapper Tab and Ranger Tab.

About the USACE Galveston District: The USACE Galveston District, established in 1880 and fondly known as the "Custodians of the Coast," plays a key role in America’s well-being by keeping waterways open for navigation and commerce and serves the nation as part of the world’s largest public engineering, design and construction management agency. Encompassing the Texas coast from Louisiana to Mexico; an area that spans across 50,000 square miles, contains more than 1,000 miles of channels (250 deep-draft and 750 shallow-draft), serves 28 ports and 700 miles of coastline, the district successfully executes its mission of providing vital public engineering services in peace and war to strengthen our nation’s security, energize the economy and reduce risks from disasters. With its 300 dedicated professionals, the district will continue to provide valuable navigation, flood risk mitigation, ecosystem restoration, shoreline protection, regulatory services, military construction and emergency management services to our nation and remains fully committed to continuing our mission of "BUILDING STRONG."


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Release no. 13-047