Lieutenant Colonel Sonny B. Avichal assumed command of the Nashville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, on June 28, 2019. As Commander and District Engineer, Lieutenant Colonel Avichal manages the water resources development and navigable waterways operations for the Cumberland and Tennessee River basins covering 59,000 square miles, with 42 field offices touching seven states and a work force of over 700 employees. Before assuming command of the Nashville District, Lieutenant Colonel Avichal served as the Deputy Commander of the New England District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, since June 15, 2017.
On the Cumberland River, the Corps operates and maintains 10 multi-purpose projects for navigation, flood damage reduction, hydropower, environmental stewardship, and recreation. Nine of these projects generate hydro-electric power and four have navigation locks. In the Tennessee River Basin, the District partners with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and operates 15 navigation locks at 10 locations. Throughout both river basins, the District carries out all regulatory activities, stream bank protection, flood control, and operation and maintenance of all navigation facilities and channels.
Lt. Col. Avichal received his U.S. Army commission in 2002 and has served in leadership and staff positions in Iraq, South Korea and multiple locations in the United States. Between 2002 and 2004, he was a platoon leader and executive officer with the 44th Engineer Battalion (Combat)(Mechanized) at Camp Howze, South Korea. In 2004-2005, he remained with the 44th Engineer Battalion as they deployed from South Korea to Iraq where he served as Company Executive Officer and Camp Mayor in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. In 2006, Lt. Col. Avichal served as a Strategic Planner for U.S. Army Pacific at Fort Shafter, HI. From 2007 to 2009, he commanded the 561st Engineer Company, 84th Engineer Battalion. The company deployed to Iraq in 2008 where they supported coalition forces with both vertical and horizontal construction projects throughout northern Iraq.
In 2009, Lieutenant Colonel Avichal was stationed in Fort Knox, KY where he served as the Engineer Branch Captain’s Assignment Officer at U.S. Army Human Resources Command. In 2012, Lt. Col. Avichal was selected as an Olmsted Scholar, learned Spanish, and spent the following two years studying International Relations at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, in Lima, Perú. From 2015-2017, Lt. Col. Avichal served as the Brigade Planner, Brigade Operations Officer, and Brigade Executive Officer for the 20th Engineer Brigade at Fort Bragg, NC. In 2017, Lt. Col. Avichal was assigned as the Deputy Commander for the New England District, Concord, MA. While serving in the New England District, Lt. Col. Avichal deployed as a member of USACE to San Juan, Puerto Rico in support of Hurricane Maria Recovery efforts as well as deployed to Erbil, Iraq, where he served as Deputy Commander of the Mosul Dam Task Force for 8 months.
Lt. Col. Avichal’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (with three Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Commendation Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), the Iraq Campaign Medal (with three campaign stars), the Korea Defense Service Medal, the Ranger Tab and the Parachutist Badge. Lt. Col. Avichal is also a recipient of the Army Engineer Association’s Bronze De Fleury Medal.
Lt. Col. Avichal holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the United States Military Academy and a Master of Arts Degree from Webster University. Lieutenant Colonel Avichal is a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) in the state of Virginia.
Lt. Col. Avichal is married to Urvi and has a two sons, Arjun (6) and Dev (5).