Peeples Assumes Command Of Mississippi Valley Division

In a ceremony held July 12 at the U.S. Army’s Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, Miss., Brig. Gen. Kimberly Peeples, already a member of the Mississippi River Commission and the previous commander of the Corps’ Great Lakes and Ohio River Engineer Division, assumed command of the Mississippi Valley Division (MVD) from Maj. Gen. Diana Holland, who had served in that role since June 2020.

After relinquishing command, Holland will retire from the Army following 33 years of service.

Maj. Gen. Butch Graham, deputy chief of engineers and deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, opened the ceremony by asking the commanders of the districts and directors within the Mississippi Valley Division to give a one-word description of Holland. These were the words shared: selfless, compassionate, calm, genuine, gracious, resolute, kind and wise.

“We’re going to miss all that,” Graham said of Holland, “but a leader’s No. 1 job is to grow new leaders. She’s done that magnificently.”

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Graham noted that Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, commanding general of the Corps of Engineers, was supposed to officiate the ceremony, but after Spellmon fell ill at the last minute, Graham was “next up.” Graham, though, said he was grateful for the chance to be a part of the change of command ceremony.

“It’s great to have the honor of officiating here today, to say thanks for a job well done, to bid farewell to a true and trusted friend, and to welcome a dynamite new leader to take on this amazingly complicated command,” Graham said.

After further remarks from Graham highlighting the role of the Mississippi Valley Division and Holland’s leadership throughout her career and over the past three years at MVD, Holland took to the podium to offer a heartfelt farewell and thanks to her colleagues and partners throughout the division.

“Thank you to the professionals of the Mississippi Valley Division for what you do every day in support of USACE and its mission,” Holland said. “You, the more than 5,500 people of this region, do remarkable things on the river or near it, because you work together with your partners and stakeholders, inspired by an exceptional purpose. I have truly enjoyed serving with you.”

She also thanked the senior executives “who’ve helped shepherd the region through a historically large program, numerous natural disasters and a ton of change.” Those executives, Holland said, include Eddie Belk, director of civil works for the Corps; James Bodron, regional business director for MVD; and Dr. Beth Fleming, director of MVD’s regional business directorate.

“Not only have I appreciated your leadership and sound advice through thick and thin, I have valued your friendship as well,” Holland said.

Holland also thanked colleagues from the MVD headquarters staff to the district command staff, including even the captain of the mv. Mississippi and the pilot of the Mississippi River Commission’s airplane.

Turning her focus beyond the Corps organization, Holland thanked MVD’s industry and community partners.

“You represent generations of communities that fought floods or tropical storms, as the case may be, alongside generations of our USACE employees,” Holland said, “more than a century of building projects in this valley and along the coast of Louisiana, locks and dams, levees, floodways, flood walls and pump stations, all to maintain navigation and flood control on the Mississippi River, the Red River of the North and the associated tributaries to ensure continued dependable maritime commerce while protecting one of the most productive sources of energy and concentration of agricultural lands in the world.

“It has been a joy to get to know you and work with you over the last three years,” she added. “Thank you for your trust in this organization.”

Holland went on also to thank the members of the Mississippi River Commission, both the enlisted members and civilian members, and many others from her career in the Army. She also issued a heartfelt welcome to the Peeples family and offered thanks to her extended family.

Holland saved her final thank-you for her husband.

“He introduced himself to me by handing me a bag of filleted fish he had just caught,” Holland said. “I knew immediately he was a keeper.”

Following a round of laughs, Holland added, “That line never gets old.”

“I would not be where I am if it weren’t for his confidence in me, his support and his sacrifice, so that I could continue to serve the way that I have felt called,” Holland said. “Hon, thank you for everything you have done, sometimes in the limelight and often behind the scenes, for me, for our family, for our soldiers, their families, West Point cadets, our civilians and our Army. I love you very much, and I look forward to our continued amazing journey together.”

Peeples, in turn, completed the theme of family and thanksgiving in her remarks as the newly-installed MVD commander, recognizing her immediate family, her extended “Army” family, the Holland family and the MVD and ERDC team.

“I am humbled to stand before you as the 42nd commander of this storied division in service to the Mississippi Valley and our great nation,” Peeples said. “I have a lot to learn, and I vow to approach the next two years with a spirit of teamwork and collaboration, facing the challenges that lie ahead together.”

As part of the event, Lt. Col. Jeremiah Gipson, deputy commander of MVD, presented medals from U.S. Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth to both Holland and her husband, James. Maj. Gen. Holland received the distinguished service medal in honor of her 33-year career, while James Holland received the superior public service medal “for outstanding service in support of the cadets, soldiers, civilians and family members” throughout his wife’s Army career.