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Colonel Larry “Dale” Caswell, Jr. takes command of Corps’ Portland District

Posted on July 24, 2023

Army Col. Larry “Dale” Caswell, Jr. became the 64th commander of the Portland District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in a change-of-command ceremony at the district’s downtown headquarters today.

“I’m honored to lead this team, which has served the Pacific Northwest and the nation for 152 years,” said Caswell, a West Virginia native. “Together, we will continue to answer the call of engineering solutions to our nation’s toughest challenges.”

Brig. Gen. Geoff Van Epps, commanding general of the Corps’ Northwestern Division, which includes the Portland District and four other Corps districts, said Caswell will face an increasingly complicated mission set as he takes command of the district.

“Portland is fortunate to have another well-qualified member of the U.S. Army’s Engineer Regiment take command, especially as the district continues to expand its civil works portfolio and significantly modifies operations at project sites to meet environmental concerns,” said Van Epps. “I’ve served with Dale Caswell before, have seen him in action, and am confident that his technical competence and leadership abilities will serve him well in command of Portland District.”

Caswell replaces Col. Mike Helton, who guided the district through the COVID-19 pandemic, Oregon’s 2020 wildfires, and emergency navigation lock outages at The Dalles and John Day. During Helton’s command, the district also assumed the Blue Roof Call Center mission a year earlier than expected, and on short notice, due to severity of Hurricane Ian. The call center received a total of 82,998 calls and helped pair homeowners with hurricane-damaged roofs with a temporary repair.

“Mike Helton is a great example of an Army leader who takes care of our people, supports our partners and delivers programs for the public,” said Van Epps. “His enthusiasm and adaptability made him extremely valuable to the district, our division and the region.”

Some of the challenges Caswell will face include completing the Willamette Valley Environmental Impact Statement, maintaining aging infrastructure and dredge vessels, and meeting critical civil works mission deadlines in the face of continuing supply chain issues.

The Portland District has one of the nation’s most comprehensive and diversified civil works programs, which provides vital public engineering services to the Pacific Northwest and the nation during peace and war to strengthen our security, promote a strong economy, and enhance environmental sustainability. Covering most of Oregon and southwestern Washington, the district operates locks and dams along the Columbia River, operates dams in the Willamette Valley for flood risk management, maintains Oregon’s coastal rivers for navigation, and leads the nation in hydropower generation, all while ensuring equal attention to environmental protection and restoration, fish and wildlife enhancement, and recreation.


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