JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va., Sept. 1, 2011 — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Army’s senior officer today celebrated the career of Army Gen. Walter L. “Skip” Sharp, who commanded U.S. forces in Korea through challenging times during his final tour of duty.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey praised Sharp as he retired today after 37 years in uniform. “Skip has been a major factor in the lives of countless teammates, friends and family members over the course of his distinguished career and lifetime of service,” Mullen said.
“As you leave our ranks for the very last time, know that we will miss your resilience, courage and willingness to not only take the tough jobs, but to excel in them in the toughest of places, changing hearts and minds wherever you went regardless of the challenge or difficulty before you,” the chairman told Sharp.
Sharp served as commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea from June 2008 to July 14, 2011. As Sharp passed command there to Army Gen. James D. Thurman, Mullen thanked him for his leadership during a time of North Korean provocations and transformation on the Korean peninsula.
“So we honor you for your years of honorable duty in the service of our country, and quite simply, being there for your soldiers and our nation,” he said today.
Dempsey compared Sharp’s career, especially a period with three consecutive assignments in the nation’s capital, to that of Gen. George C. Marshall during World War II.
“[Sharp has served] thanklessly and dutifully at the strategic level in Washington, when so many of his peers were gaining notoriety at the tactical and operational level in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Dempsey said. “In doing so, he demonstrated selflessness, humility and dedication doing what the nation needed him to do ï¿½ not what he wanted to do.”
Mullen and Dempsey praised Sharp for his positive leadership and the ability to connect with his soldiers.
“His ability to garner trust, support and commitment up and down the chain of command, with new friends and old ones alike, is a hallmark of his leadership,” Mullen said.
Dempsey called Sharp “a leader’s leader.”
“Our Army is simply better and our nation safer because of his service,” he said. “He leaves behind a deep and wide bench of proteges who know what right looks like.”
Mullen praised Sharp’s long track record of taking on and succeeding in tough assignments.
“Even in his early years, Skip accomplished his mission by not just exceeding standards himself, but by building a team capable of exceeding standards, and then motivating it to do just that,” he said.
“From the sands of Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, to the uncertainty in Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy, to the uneasy ceasefire on the Korean peninsula, Skip, like few others, has had the ability to build the bridges to success so vital to today’s world,” he continued. “At every juncture, he’s come back with not only allies, but friends.”
Dempsey expressed his pride in helping mark the end of Sharp’s decades-long service in uniform.
“It is a genuine honor … to be a part of those who are wishing you well as you finish what has been, by any measure, a remarkable career,” he said.
Sharp said he deeply appreciates those he served with, whether or not they wore a uniform.
“It has been a great honor to work for and with each of you for the last 37 years,” he said. “I have been honored to work with so many selfless leaders, both civilian and military, whose sole focus [during] countless hours has been winning this war and taking care of our troops and families. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of that.”
Sharp vividly described milestones throughout his long career and thanked those who made his success possible.
“To all the troops and Department of Defense civilians serving today, it has been an honor to serve with individuals who volunteered to serve and continue to serve today knowing they will go to war,” he said.
The general he said he’s confident the nation he has served for nearly four decades will be in good hands going forward.
“As I look at those who are entering and serving today, I am very confident the future holds even greater promise, here in the United States and around the world,” he said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)