USACE Galveston District welcomes new colonel

Published July 8, 2016

GALVESTON, Texas (July 8, 2016) -- Col. Richard P. Pannell passed the command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District to Col. Lars N. Zetterstrom, 53rd district commander, during a change of command ceremony today at the USACE Galveston District's Jadwin Building in Galveston, Texas.
USACE Southwestern Division Commander Brig. Gen. David Hill presided over the ceremony.

"Thank you for joining us today as we gather to recognize the important contributions of the wonderful Department of the Army civilians and Soldiers of the Galveston District, all that they have accomplished during this most recent chapter of their great history, and quite frankly, the enduring contributions of this district that have transcended changes in leadership since 1880 and which I'm confident will continue well beyond the careers of any of us here today," said Hill.

Hill thanked Pannell'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.

"While it is always difficult to say goodbye, as we do today to the Pannells, in my experience, the Army always gets it right in selecting command teams to pick up the mission and continue forward," said Hill. "Lars and Erin Zetterstrom are certainly the right team to lead the Galveston District into the future."  
Zetterstrom expressed gratitude to outgoing commander for his service to the district and nation. Pannell 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 look forward to building upon the relationships and partnerships this district has cultivated and will work together to tackle our toughest challenges to continue to build resiliency along the Texas coast," said Zetterstrom. 

As district commander, Pannell led the USACE Galveston District with distinction during an era of growth and transformation. His most notable accomplishments include the initiation of the Addicks and Barker mega project, the Texas Coast and Houston Ship Channel mega studies, maintaining navigation along the Gulf Intercostal Waterway and revitalizing stakeholder engagements.

"It is difficult to put into words my appreciation for the opportunity to serve this district," said Pannell. "This district has an incredible rich history and we've received amazing support from the USACE Southwestern Division and headquarters that has allowed us to accomplish our great mission."

Prior to assuming command of the USACE Galveston District, Zetterstrom served as the director of the Maneuver Support Battle Lab at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Originally from Clifton Park, New York, Zetterstom graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he received his commission in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1994.

Zetterstrom's military service highlights include chief of staff, U.S. Army Engineer School, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; garrison commander, USAG Kaiserslautern, Germany; engineer planner, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (South/Southwest), Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan; deputy district commander of the Buffalo District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; battalion executive officer of the 10th Sustainment Brigade Troops Battalion; facilities and construction chief in the 10th Mountain Division and Combined Joint Taskforce-180 in Fort Drum, New York, and Afghanistan.
Other significant assignments include assistant brigade operations officer and training officer in the 2nd Training Support Brigade, Fort Drum, New York; company commander of the only Rough Terrain Engineer Company in the world - Bravo, 27th Engineer Battalion "Rough Terrain" in Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Kosovo; and Sapper platoon leader, support platoon leader, company executive officer and assistant battalion plans officer in the 82nd Engineer Battalion "Blue Babe" in Bamberg, Germany and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Zetterstrom's deployments include two tours in Bosnia-Herzegovina, one tour in Kosovo, and two tours to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Zetterstrom earned a Master of Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College, a Master of Science in Civil/Environmental Engineering from the Missouri University of Science & Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the United States Military Academy. 

His awards and badges include the Ranger Tab, Senior Parachutist Badge and the Air Assault Badge. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (five oak leaf clusters), Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Citation, Army Superior Unit Award (one oak leaf cluster) and the NATO Medal (four service stars) among several others.

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. 16-035