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Fort Lee’s 94th Division commanding general retires, unit welcomes new commander

By Maj. Ebony Gay | 94th Training Division-Force Sustainment | Nov. 14, 2018

FORT LEE, Va. — During the career of any military leader, taking command of a unit at various echelons is thought of as one the most challenging endeavors bestowed upon our nation’s service men and women. It is another milestone and journey of its own for one to see their military career through until retirement. 

The 94th Training Division-Force Sustainment, a down-trace unit of the 80th Training Command (The Army School System), gathered at Fort Lee’s McLaughlin Fitness Center to bid farewell to Brig. Gen. Hector Lopez and welcome Brig. Gen. Stephen Iacovelli as the new division commander on Aug. 5, 2018, during the unit’s change of command ceremony. 

For Lopez, a Troop Program Units soldier from Puerto Rico and Director of Logistics Management and Services for the Defense Media Agency at Fort Meade, Maryland, his life and military journey is one comprised of many achievements while making history along the way. 

With so much attained during Lopez’s two-year command tenure, he shared some of his successful endeavors as well as hardships throughout his life and military career. With 2018 marking the 100th year anniversary of the 94th Division, which was founded in Puerto Rico, Lopez is the division’s first commanding general from Puerto Rico. 

Lopez stood proudly and humbled as he shared stories of triumph during his command while thanking God for the honor and privilege bestowed upon him to be the commander of the 94th TD-FS.

“It is unusual for a unit or an organization to see their vision statement materialized. I stand here proud to testify that we achieved our vision statement, as we truly have become the most capable, ready, accredited and certified generator of readiness for the total sustainment force,” said Lopez.

With a unit of more than 2,300 service men and women, the division has succeeded at training 40,266 students in 1825 classes to standard in the past two years. The division also endured numerous changes to its organization. Under Lopez’s command, the division relocated its 2nd Brigade from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Fort Lee, Virginia, creating greater synergies with the transportation proponent and are collaborating to transform the brigade into the first multi-component brigade in existence. 

During Lopez’s tenure, the division also assumed the responsibility of a Health Service brigade and its 400 soldiers, making 94th TD-FS the only TASS sustainment organization that trains all components of sustainment (Logistics, Personnel Services, and Health Service Support). Additionally, the division built and established The Army School System (TASS) Training Center Lee and prepared to assume control of the TTC. 

With the numerous accomplishments of Lopez, he acknowledged that his time in command would not have been successful without God, a devoted command team and his brigade commanders. “All accomplishments was not done by me alone. As I mentioned before, God has been good to me, and I was blessed to have the best leaders and soldiers assisting me in executing mission command,” said Lopez. 

Lopez also stated that his team of professional leaders and soldiers proudly met the challenge of responding to the priority of the Army; which is to generate readiness. 

All great things executed at military units come with challenging tasks and obstacles achieved to fulfill various missions and objectives at multiple echelons, especially a one-star command. For Lopez, these challenges would be ones which would require him to incorporate several Army command elements for the 94th Division to succeed despite the unit being spread across more 20 states throughout the U.S. 

“The biggest challenge of command at the division level is managing how to sit everyone down at the table and having conversations. It’s not only about the division staff and brigade commander. We look to meet objectives from various military components and organizations such as Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM), Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) and United States Army Reserve Command (USARC) which has an impact on the total force along with the challenge of the division being geographically dispersed. Adding, It’s important that we make a decision together and that we plan together from the beginning.” said Lopez.

Lopez went on to share a few things that he would like to partake in during his retirement. For Lopez, it is important that he set an example and be an advocate for soldiers along with men and women who may be considering a career in our nation’s Armed Forces. He would like to share his story of perseverance from being a kid from Puerto Rico who had to learn how to speak English to the brigadier general who has obtained several bachelors and master degrees along with establishing and thrived during his 35-year military career with an admirable legacy.

“It is a tremendous honor to be the first Puerto Rican commanding general in the division’s history that is from Puerto Rico. I’ve encountered people that underestimated my intellect due to my background and accent. That did not stop me from learning how to speak English, joining the military and carrying out a successful career.” said Lopez. 

Lopez took a moment to express his sentiment for his spouse, and the soldiers of the 94th Division for their support as the division enters a new command. “The 94th passes the baton to an outstanding general officer so he can start his way to victory into a new century. It has been my greatest honor to proudly serve among the soldiers of the 94th and being called your commanding general. May God continue to bless you and protect you. God bless America. On the way to victory.” said Lopez.

Finally, Lopez thanked his most prominent supporter for her unwavering commitment to his time in command and military career. “I would like to thank the love of my life, my daily inspiration and the woman that has stood beside me not just these past two years but for decades. Lourdes, we made it, you made it so much easy for me to continue to serve and I love you and admire your noble heart. You are and always be my pride and joy.” Said Lopez. 

Maj. Gen. Bruce Hackett, commanding general of the 80th TC (TASS) shared his thoughts on the outstanding job Lopez and the soldiers of the 94th TD-FS the past two years. “Throughout my Battlefield Circulation over the past 11 months, I have become deeply impressed with the 94th and its subordinate commands. I am enthralled of the professionalism, level of commitment, collaboration, and coordination you and the 94th soldiers have displayed on all fronts from conducting the Mortuary Affairs 10 Level reclassification course at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico to the CONUS Replacement Center mission at Fort Bliss, Texas. Your efforts have enabled us to build a closer relationship with Fort Lee, CASCOM, and TRADOC and be recognized as one of the best Training Divisions in the Army Reserve. You’ve done a tremendous job under Brig. Gen. Lopez’s leadership.” Said Hackett. 

Hackett emphasized the magnitude of command at the division level. He stated that commanding a division is an enormous responsibility. “Brig. Gen. Lopez’s impressive logistics expertise and his extraordinary resume of accomplishments speak for itself; having successfully commanded at all levels. Hector, you've done an exceptional job as the commanding general, and I'm extremely grateful we had the opportunity to serve together.” said Hackett.

Hackett continued, highlighting the significant role Lopez played in constructing rapport amongst other essential commands throughout the Army along with his eagerness to continue the 94th TD-FS upward progress under the leadership of the unit’s new command general.

“The relationships you’ve made in CASCOM, Puerto Rico and USARC have made a huge difference in the sustainment community. You’ve set this division on a successful course and we all ‘thank you’ for a job well done. From my observations, I know this division is in great shape with the outstanding leadership of Brig. Gen. Lopez and I look forward to continuing that momentum under Brig. Gen. Iacovelli”, said Hackett. 

Iacovelli who is a Troop Program Units soldier and 5½ year senior consultant with Applied Information Sciences in Morrisville, North Carolina, shared his enthusiasm to take command of the 94th Division. This command is also unique for Iacovelli, concerning he pinned on his one-star during his promotion ceremony was held just hours before taking command of the division during the unit’s centennial year.

“I was very excited at the opportunity to command the largest training division in the United States Army. The division has the vital mission of training the total force, and I am very humbled to have been selected to command this great organization. With the division celebrating its 100th anniversary, I was also thinking about what an honor it is to be leading it into its next hundred years”, said Iacovelli. 

For Iacovelli, his initial goals and objectives coming into command consist of ensuring the unit continue increasing the division’s readiness and enhance its ability to execute its Army Program of Individual Training (ARPRINT) mission.

“Individual readiness is the key building block. We must take the time to develop our subordinates through mentoring, teaching, and coaching. We must ensure our Soldiers attend their required Professional Military Education to prepare them for future opportunities. We also must ensure that we take safety into consideration in all that we do, and the foundation starts with the completion of courses such as risk management and the commander’s safety course.” said Iacovelli.

There tools and lessons learned over the years that Iacovelli believe will aid with success of his command tenure. “As leaders, we are entrusted with taking care of our Soldiers. I have always believed that success is based on the ability to take care of our Soldiers while focusing on accomplishing the assigned mission,” said Iacovelli.

Iacovelli went on stating that we must delegate authority and responsibility to our subordinate leaders while providing them the resources to be successful. Being the commander of 2d Brigade, 98th Training Division for the past three years has also taught Iacovelli the importance of looking at the bigger picture and from different perspectives. 

As Iacovelli ventured into another division command, Hackett extended a warm welcome to him and his family, expressing his faith in Iacovelli’s ability to lead the 94th division along with a few words of guidance. “Stephen, welcome to the Premiere Training Command and the 94th Team. Your truly impressive list of accomplishments, your critical deployment, combat support, and engineering expertise, and educational experience make you the right fit for these exceptional soldiers. You now step into the next level of soldiers’ education as a commander of troops. Stephen, you have my total commitment in supporting your strategy and command philosophy for the well-being of this division.” said Hackett. 

“As you carry the torch and live up to the finest traditions and legacy of the 94th. My guidance to you is simple, ‘Take care of your soldiers and their families and provide them with the best available opportunities to be experts in your respective specialties.’ This will breed a strong unit that is eager to assist and provide you with the best support (wherever and wherever) to help defend this great nation of ours. We will continue to be challenged with changing military policies, and at times with constrained resources. However, we still have the honor and privilege of performing a job that is essential to the long-term safety and security of our Nation. This division will continue to perform their part by executing their absolute best under your command by continuing to sustain mission excellence.” said Hackett. 

Iacovelli concluded by sharing his overall motive for his role as the new 94th TD-FS commanding general. “I am here to serve the soldiers and civilians of the division. My job is to ensure that our people are properly trained and resourced to accomplish their mission; to remove obstacles and set the conditions for success; to ensure our soldiers are prepared for future conflict; and to ensure our families are taken care of, without whose support we could not do our jobs,” said Iacovelli.