Army Vice Chief of Staff Returns to Auburn
On Friday, Oct. 26, Auburn Alumni Center hosted a special guest in honor of the military appreciation game that was held this past weekend.
Gen. Lloyd Austin speaks to an audience in the Alumni Center
Gen. Lloyd Austin III, the vice chief of staff for the United States Army, spoke to a large crowd that was gathered in the Alumni building. Having attended West Point for his undergraduate degree, Austin was sent to Auburn for a masters degree in counselor education making him and his wife, Charlene, part of the Auburn family.
Both Austin and his wife received Auburn’s Lifetime Achievement Award and Dean of the College of Education, Betty Lou Whitford, described the general as “the hero you should know and a rock star.” When Austin stepped to the podium on Friday afternoon, his commanding presence left no doubt to how he’s established himself as one of the top leaders in our country, but what was surprising was the way in which he spoke about his achievements.
Gen. Austin speaks with Auburn alum during his visit on Friday
One would think that a man who is second in command over the entire US Army, a man who served as the commanding general over the US forces in Iraq, and the first African-American general to lead an entire war effort in a major theater of operation would be a serious and intimidating sort of a man. While that side is without a doubt present, his humor was a pleasant surprise and the charisma with which he spoke left many audience members asking for an encore.
The education and influence that Auburn had on both Austin and his wife was evident throughout both of their speeches. Austin said that the biggest lesson he learned at Auburn was about about connecting with people and the counseling degree helped him understand how valuable the human aspect of operations are. “ I often tell people the greatest assets are not our tanks or sophisticated systems. It’s our people. Soldiers are not in the Army, they are the Army,” said Austin.
As vice chief of staff, Austin is responsible for the training and equipping of 1.1 million soldiers and he said that communication with each soldier is key to the execution of any mission.
Wherever Austin and his wife find themselves throughout the years, they say that they will always remember Auburn and care about this community. “ The Auburn spirit is a fundamental part of who we are. Whatever corner of the earth we’re in, we always know what’s going on back in Auburn,” said Austin.
Auburn University is proud to have such a man of excellence and character representing the family. Thank you General Austin for all of your service in the protection of our country and the hard work you’ve done to make it a safer place.