NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 1, 2021) – Lt. Col. Joseph M. Sahl took command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District today during a change of command ceremony at the Tennessee National Guard Armory. He becomes the 67th commander of the “twin rivers” district, commonly referred to as the jewel of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division.
Sahl comes to the Nashville District from the Jacksonville District in Jacksonville, Florida, where he served as deputy commander. As commander of the Nashville District, he assumes responsibility for managing 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 750 employees.
During the change of command, the new commander highlighted the district’s incredible missions like navigation, flood control and risk management, emergency management, hydropower, recreation, regulatory and environmental responsibilities. He also noted the ongoing construction of new navigation locks at Kentucky Dam and Chickamauga Dam on the Tennessee River, and lauded the great reputation of the entire Nashville District workforce.
Sahl said he is pleased to see that Nashville District attacks every project, from mega projects to the routine, with passion and close partnerships.
“No way everything could be done without strong, engaged partners. I look forward to continuing to foster those partnerships through close coordination and persistent communication. I am committed 100 percent to this district and this region,” Sahl said.
Col. Kimberly A. Peeples, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division commander, officiated the change of command and said Sahl comes to the Nashville District with extensive experience having served in both the Jacksonville and Fort Worth Districts.
She stressed that Sahl is a seasoned professional and talented engineer officer who has deployed multiple times and has an incredible reputation across the Army.
“He is the right leader at the right time, and we are blessed to have him lead this historic district,” Peeples said.
The new commander expressed his appreciation to the division commander for the incredible opportunity to command the Nashville District. He also recognized past amazing mentors and commanders who led him to the point he reached today. He especially thanked his wife Kathy for her strength and love and for being the glue that binds their family, and he expressed love, joy and pride for his sons Joey and Cody. He also expressed a lot of gratitude for his parents, Joe and Kathie Sahl of Texas, for their commitment, support, and unconditional love.
Sahl is a native of San Antonio, Texas. He received his U.S. Army commission in 2004 and has served in leadership and staff positions in Iraq, Europe, and multiple locations in the United States during his Army career. In 2016, he deployed to Korea and Europe as commander of the 273rd Forward Engineer Support Team - Advanced.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (six awards), the Army Commendation Medal (four awards), Army Achievement Medal (four awards), Meritorious Unit Citation, Army Superior Unit Award, National Defense Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal (with four campaign stars), Humanitarian Service Medal and Combat Action Badge. He is a recipient of the Army Engineer Association’s Bronze Order of the de Fleury Medal.
Sahl holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University. He also holds Master of Arts degrees in geological engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology, and military studies from Marine Corps University. He is a graduate of the Army Engineer Officer Basic and Advanced Courses and the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. He is also a certified Project Management Professional.
Peeples lauded the outgoing commander, Lt. Col. Sonny B. Avichal, and noted how the lieutenant colonel led the district through seven emergency response actions, from hurricanes to COVID-19 pandemic relief.
“Sonny’s thoughtful and deliberate actions kept the workforce safe while simultaneously allowing the district to solve the nation’s toughest engineering problems without interruption,” Peeples said.
She added that there are many important projects and issues that Avichal led during his time as commander, and the district garnered the USACE Enterprise Best District for Safety and Best District for Contracting in 2019. The district also received “Best Places to Work” in USACE in both 2019 and 2020, she said.
During Avichal’s command, the Kentucky Lock Addition Project and Chickamauga Lock Replacement Project gained momentum, and rehabilitation of turbine generators at the Center Hill Dam Hydropower Plant were completed. Avichal recently led flood risk reduction efforts at the district’s 10 multipurpose projects in the Cumberland River Basin. The combined efforts of the district under his leadership prevented flood damage to the tune of $1.8 billion in late March and early April 2021. He also led the district’s COVID-19 pandemic response efforts, which included the construction for the state of Tennessee of an alternate care site to provide 67 additional beds at Nashville General Hospital.
In saying farewell, Avichal lauded the Nashville District’s employees for supporting Hurricane Laura and delivering more than 12,000 Blue Roofs, the largest Blue Roof Operation in USACE history, and for delivering two critical water supply actions at J. Percy Priest Lake and Old Hickory Lake.
“I am extremely grateful and humbled to have been the 66th commander of the Nashville District,” Avichal said. “Over the last two years we’ve been through a lot and accomplished so much more than we ever thought possible.”
Avichal also thanked his wife Urvi for her love, support and resiliency through his tenure as commander, and also gave credit to his children for their support. He is now set to attend the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington D.C.
For more news and information visit the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.