Maj. Gen. Viet X. Luong gives remarks during a ceremony Aug. 28 at Camp Zama, Japan, during which he assumed command of U.S. Army Japan, taking over from the outgoing commander, Maj. Gen. James F. Pasquarette. Luong formerly served as the deputy commanding general of operations for Eighth Army in Korea. (Photo by Dustin Perry, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs)
CAMP ZAMA, Japan -- Maj. Gen. Viet X. Luong assumed command of U.S. Army Japan during a change-of-command ceremony held on Aug. 28, 2018, taking over from the outgoing commander, Maj. Gen. James F. Pasquarette.
Luong formerly served as the deputy commanding general of operations for Eighth Army in Korea. He described the day on which he took command of USARJ as "special" and "an incredible honor" for him and his family.
"Too often, we speak about promotions and selection for command in terms of talent, hard work, luck and timing," said Luong. "However, we don't talk about what a privilege it is to live in the land of the free, and the wondrous privileges we enjoy as Americans."
Gen. Robert B. Brown, commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific, who conducted the traditional passing of the guidon during the ceremony described the story of Luong's Army career as "one of the American Dream."
Luong, who emigrated from Vietnam to the United States with his family in 1975 at the age of 9, earned his commission via the Reserve Officer's Training Corps program at the University of Southern California in 1987. He went on to serve in numerous military campaigns and conflicts, including Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Freedom's Sentinel/NATO Resolute Support in Afghanistan.
"Viet prides himself on being a positive influence, and I'm certain he'll be a positive influence here and keep the tremendous momentum going for U.S. Army Japan," said Brown.
Luong pledged to "continue to build on the great work" that Pasquarette, his predecessor, had cultivated in during his three years in command. He then quoted a Japanese proverb, which translates to, "No road is too long in the company of friends."
"I look forward to walking side-by-side with you in this journey, and it will be a distinct honor for me to do so," said Luong. "I'm ready to join your phalanx, and it will be an honor to fight by your side."
Pasquarette took command of USARJ in July 2015. He will next be promoted to the rank of lieutenant general in conjunction with his new assignment as the deputy chief of staff, G-8, at the Pentagon in Washington. He will replace Lt. Gen. John M. Murray.
Pasquarette described his time as the USARJ commander as "the most rewarding experience I've had, or probably will ever have, in my life." As he departs Japan, Pasquarette said he understands the geopolitical significance of the U.S.-Japan alliance as "the cornerstone of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific."
"I've been so lucky with my time here in Japan; it's been the honor of a lifetime to serve here as the commander," said Pasquarette. "And while [Pasquarette's wife] Liz and I are excited about getting back to the United States, we depart Japan with a long list of friends and incredible memories that we will cherish for the rest of our lives."
Brown summed up the change of leadership by emphasizing the importance of the alliance between the United States and Japan, and asserting both his pride in the work Pasquarette had done to strengthen it, and his assurance that Luong will do to maintain the partnership.
"U.S. Army Japan is really a critically important and unique command in the Pacific; there is none other like it," said Brown. "On the one hand, we say farewell to great friends, folks we've worked with--a great team that has led this organization. But on the other hand … another great team comes in. [The Luongs] are another tremendous Army family, and we are so proud to have them here."