The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Philadelphia District ushered in a new era of leadership as Lt. Col. Michael A. Bliss assumed command from Lt. Col. John C. Becking during a July 1 ceremony in the Wanamaker Building’s Crystal Tea Room. Bliss is the 58th commander in the District’s history.
North Atlantic Division Commander Brig. Gen. Kent D. Savre presided over the ceremony, thanking Lt. Col. Becking for his leadership and welcoming Lt. Col. Bliss to the community.
“I have a deep appreciation for Philadelphia – this city has made such a monumental impact on our nation, and so has the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” said Savre. “Chris Becking provided tremendous leadership during these past two years, and the District team has delivered on a number of critical missions.”
Savre described Becking’s leadership in the months after Hurricane Sandy as the District executed approximately $100 million in FEMA emergency response missions and another $100 million in coastal restoration projects.
“He was everywhere after the storm – at the Mantoloking Breach, the Passaic Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Hoboken Ferry Terminal, Fort Monmouth and a number of other project sites – he worked tirelessly to ensure we delivered high-quality solutions to our customers and I’m proud to have served with him.”
“Today, the colors passed, and I have complete trust and confidence in Michael Bliss to lead this organization,” said Savre. “The District stands ready, strong and capable to continue serving our nation.”
Lt. Col. Becking thanked the many partners in attendance for engaging communities and helping USACE build projects across the region. He reflected on his time in Philadelphia and credited the workforce for high performance.
“This ceremony is not really about the two commanders – it’s about recognizing the history and achievements of this great organization,” said Becking. “It has been an absolute joy to serve with you, watch you excel and overcome challenges, and pray for you.”
Becking will work at USACE Headquarters in Washington, D.C. for his next assignment.
Lt. Col. Bliss will oversee a 500-person Philadelphia District workforce responsible for managing the water resources of the Delaware River basin; building facilities for the Army and Air Force; and providing engineering and environmental services for other agencies.
“It is an honor to follow Lt. Col. Becking’s leadership and I look forward working with all of you,” said Bliss, who also spoke about the history of Fort Mifflin and Philadelphia during his remarks.
Bliss holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Clarkson University in New York, a Master of Science in Engineering Management from the Missouri Science & Technology University, and a Master of Science in Civil & Environmental Engineering from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He was commissioned in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1996 and is a registered professional engineer in Kansas.
USACE, July 2, 2014