By Robert Timmons Fort Jackson Public Affairs
2020 has been a year of firsts on Fort Jackson and a ceremony at Victory Hall added another to that list. In its 103-year history Fort Jackson has never welcomed a new deputy commander with a ceremony.
The post welcomed the newest member of the Army Training Center and Fort Jackson’s command team, Col. Michael M. Larsen as deputy commanding officer in a ceremony Aug. 25 at Victory Hall.
“In our history, our installation has never had a welcome ceremony for a deputy commander in this manner,” said Brig. Gen. Milford H. “Beags” Beagle Jr., Fort Jackson’s commander. “When we think of our commanders, when we think about our command sergeants major, when we think about first sergeants and commanders all the way down to the company level – they get a ceremony.”
Beagle said it just “made sense” to give that same honor to our deputy commander here at Fort Jackson – as it is the practice in divisions and centers of excellence.
We have missed the opportunity in the past, “but there is no time than the present to set yourself right,” he said.
It is a must to have the right colonel in the position of DCO and Larsen is that person, Beagle added.
“Based on what is expected of you,” he said, “and the contribution you will make to the team, we owe you the benefit of a warm welcome and a solid first impression.”
Larsen said he was humbled and “not expecting this.”
“I was fully anticipating to show up under the radar and quietly move into our quarters on post, get things settled and just start getting after it,” he said.
He said he already felt like part of the Fort Jackson Family because he served under a former post commander who whenever there was a situation in U.S. Army Africa would say, “… this reminds me of Jackson, where we used to,” or ‘I used to.”
“I just didn’t fully comprehend that everything in the world is related back to Fort Jackson,” said 1992 graduate of The Citadel jokingly. “So for the past two years I have been serving vicariously at Jackson through a mentor of mine and former commander here.”
Larsen comes to Fort Jackson from Vincenza, Italy, where he was the USARAF Chief of Staff under Lt. Gen. Roger Cloutier. He also spent time as garrison commander in the Kwajalein Atoll. He has multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Sir, I appreciate you bringing me here and making me a part of your team, your deputy.” he said to Beagle during the ceremony. “I am honored for the opportunity and will do my best to support your command initiatives, and be a positive contributor to the community as well.”
Beagle also thanked Col. Renee Macdonald, the National Guard liaison on Fort Jackson for being a “free safety” and taking on multiple roles on the installation. She had been acting chief of staff and had been the acting DCO.
“50% of her time here has been filled by doing something other than her day job,” Beagle explained.