Col. Sebastien Joly receives the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flag from Brig. Gen. Diana Holland during the Mobile Engineer District change-of-command ceremony. Joly became the 53rd commander of the Mobile District. (Corps of Engineers photo by Chuck Walker)

Joly Assumes Command Of Mobile Engineer District

In a ceremony June 29 at the Renaissance Riverview Hotel in Mobile, Ala., Col. Sebastien Joly assumed command of the Mobile Engineer District, relieving Col. James DeLapp, who retired from the Army.

Brig. Gen. Diana Holland, commander of the South Atlantic Engineer Division, presided over the ceremony.

Joly was previously an operations officer in the Directorate of Regional Operations and Global Force Management for the Joint Staff in Washington, D.C.

Other assignments include battalion commander of the 5th Engineer Battalion at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; assistant director of civil works for the Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C.; chief of strategic targeting for International Security Assistance Forces in Kabul, Afghanistan; brigade executive officer of the 130th Engineer Brigade at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; battalion executive officer of the 65th Engineer Battalion at Schofield Barracks; battalion military transition team chief in various locations throughout Iraq; assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics, West Point, N.Y.; post engineer at Fort Richardson, Alaska; company commander of C/84th Engineer Battalion at Fort Richardson; and company executive officer and platoon leader in the 5th Engineer Battalion at Fort Leonard Wood.

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Joly has earned three master’s degrees in operations research, engineering management, and national security studies. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in December 1996 where he received his commission in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He is also a graduate of the National War College, Ft. McNair, D.C.; the Army Command and General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.; the Joint Engineer Officer Course, Ft. Leonard Wood; the Combined Arms Services Staff School, Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.; and the Engineer Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Ft. Leonard Wood.

For Joly and his wife, Vanessa, the move is something of a homecoming; she is from nearby Excel, Ala. After making 11 moves during Joly’s military career, they said they are looking forward to spending three years in the Mobile area.

Col. James DeLapp

At a retirement dinner, DeLapp, a native of Barrington, Ill., looked back on an Army career that saw him serve four Corps districts, a former senator and presidential candidate, and in support of peacekeeping and combat operations in Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

As he ended his career as the 52nd Mobile District commander, DeLapp said what he will miss the most is the camaraderie and friendships he has built over the years.

“I am going to miss all of the great people I’ve worked with and the tremendous civilian workforce I was able to spend so much time with,” said DeLapp. “I had a very dynamic career, going to a lot of different places, with 14 changes of location and five combat tours. I had a lot of great friends and experiences and I have lost some friends in combat. I’m going to miss the time spent with them, good and bad. I think we’ve made things better for the world the last 24 years.”

One of the highlights of DeLapp’s career was designing the prison cell that housed Saddam Hussein in Iraq as he awaited trial and eventual execution. DeLapp, an architect by trade, designed the facility from scratch.

He said the highlight of his time in Mobile was the district’s response to helping the people of Puerto Rico after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria last fall.

“Our response and recovery in Puerto Rico was a major effort for the district,” DeLapp said. “I can’t say enough about the work our people did over there. It was monumental.”

The Mobile District

The Mobile Engineer District includes a workforce of more than 1,100 personnel who provide project management, construction, and engineer support to the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee, as well as Central and South America. The district manages a $1 billion military, civil works and international/inter-agency support program that responds to disasters, manages water resource infrastructure, protects the environment and provides facilities for national defense and inter-agency partners.