By STAFF SGT. CANDICE FUNCHESS
3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs
The 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and Fort Knox senior leadership turned out to honor then Col. Flem “Donnie” Walker Jr., commanding general of the 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), for his promotion to brigadier general at a ceremony held at the Saber and Quill on Friday.
The ceremony was to celebrate a magnificent officer’s accomplishments, as stated by the host of the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Allen Batschelet, commanding general of U.S. Army Recruiting Command on Fort Knox.
“His tactical and technical abilities, his warrior ethos and his commitment to our nation, all distinguished him amongst his peers for selection to brigadier general,” said Batschelet. “Today all that hard work, dedication to duty and service to country pays off.”
Batschelet also spoke on the emphasis Walker placed on Family, which was evident as the entire Walker Family, who took up the first three rows of seats on the right side of the room, went to the stage for their special parts in the ceremony.
Walker stood in the center of the stage while his wife Hope, stood to his right and exchanged his colonel epaulette with the one star epaulette. His parents retired Sgt. 1st Class Flem Walker Sr. and mother Charlene Walker, did the same on the left shoulder of his ASU jacket.
As Walker removed his jacket, with the help of his aide-de-camp, 1st Lt. Matt Dirisio, his wife and mother stepped back into the line of Family members, so his three children could also take part in the ceremony. Walker’s daughters, Hannah and Holly, stood to his left and right side and switched out the shoulder boards on his white dress shirt as his son, Trey, took the colonel rank off his beret and replaced it with the silver star.
After reciting the oath of office as a newly promoted general, Walker was presented with a general officer belt by his two sisters, Darline Carr and Donna Burton, a model M9 9 mm general officer pistol by Ray Latham and Larry Burton, and his one-star general officer flag that was unfurled and posted by Command Sgt. Maj. Karl Roberts, senior enlisted advisor of the 3rd ESC. Batschelet also deferred his presentation and honors to Walker allowing him to receive one ruffle, one flourish and an 11-gun salute. To commemorate his first honors salute as a brigadier general, a ceremonial shell was presented by Master Sgt. Don Chandler.
Standing behind the podium, with the flags of the 50 states aligning the walls behind him, the stage to his right with the Army colors, the 3rd ESC colors, a general officer flag with two stars and lastly, the flag closest to him- his red general officer flag with one star, Walker addressed the guests and thanked the host, Batschelet.
“Sir, I do appreciate you presiding and hosting the ceremony today,” said Walker. “It means a great deal to me, not only personally, but for my Family as well.”
Walker went on to thank his entire staff for their hard work and let it be known the day was really all about Family.
“Here is the bottom line: None of us in uniform could do the things we do or serve to our greatest potential without the support of our Family, the true and absolute ‘strength of any Soldier,’” said Walker.
Walker began his salute to his Family by first speaking of his “true” heroes—his mother and father. His father honorably served for more than 22 years and completed two tours in Vietnam. From there he continued to mention every out-of-town guest that came to share in the celebration and ended the Family salute by speaking about his wife and three children. Walker stated that he was their biggest fans and they were his, and they truly were the reason he got up each and every day.
He gave a special tribute to his wife who he said had been at his side for every ceremony since commissioning at Auburn University. Walker said, “Every rank I have ever attained is as much due to her sacrifice and hard work. More importantly, none of it would mean nearly as much if she hadn’t been with me for the ride.”
In closing, Walker referenced his favorite anonymous quote as he ended his speech, “I truly have been blessed to have stood on the shoulders of so many giants, throughout not only my career in this Army, but throughout my lifetime.”