News: U.S. Army Civil Affairs Colonel Receives his First Star
Story by Staff Sgt. Amanda Smolinski
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – A promotion ceremony was held for Winchester, Mass., native Brig. Gen. Hugh C. Van Roosen II, Feb. 2, at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Van Roosen’s family, friends and retired Maj. Gen. Herbert “Buzz” Altshuler, former commanding General of USACAPOC(A); were in attendance. Guests traveled as far as Oregon to attend today’s ceremony.
“The making of a general officer takes a lot of time and patience,” Altshuler said, “I am impressed with his (Van Roosen’s) enthusiasm and knowledge…it is not an easy road.”
After reciting the Oath of Office, Brig. Gen. Van Roosen’s son Chris assisted in the presentation of his general officer belt. The history of the general officer belt dates back to World War II with an order by the Army Chief of Staff that the belt be issued to all General Officers to add a “dressier touch” to the kahki shirt and trousers. The soft thick, black leather belt with a gold-plated buckle and imprint of an eagle was first produced in 1943. Today, the occasion and uniform with which the belt is worn are at the discretion of each general officer.
Brig. Gen. Van Roosen’s daughter, Allison, assisted him in unfurling his one star flag. The flag was first authorized August 22, 1903 for the use by Army general officers when making official visits to Navy vessels.
Van Roosen was promoted to the rank of brigadier general, Dec. 22, while serving as the 353rd Civil Affairs Commander in Staten Island, NY- an Army Reserve unit belonging to the U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne). In his civilian career, Van Roosen works as the Executive Officer for the U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Van Roosen has served more than 29 years in the U.S. Army with leadership experience in Civil Affairs, infantry and the Special Forces. Reflecting back on his career, Van Roosen said, “I never imagined I would make it past the rank of major.” Van Roosen started his career as an enlisted infantry Soldier attaining the rank of sergeant before attending officer candidate school at Fort Benning, Ga. in 1981.
His inspiration to join the military came from his father, Don Van Roosen. His father dropped out of his second year at Harvard University to join the infantry as a private. As quick as he joined, he landed on Omaha Beach in the second wave of D-Day. He survived capture, received five Purple Hearts, and the Silver and Bronze Stars for valor. He was also given a battlefield commission to second lieutenant. His father then joined the Army Reserve where he retired in the Special Forces Command as a leiutenant colonel.
When Van Roosen reflected back on his career, his most notable assignment was being a Civil Affairs Brigade commander in Iraq in 2007-08. He was able to be a part of the successful U.S. Army mission in Basra and Sadr City, Iraq.
There are approximately 205,000 soldiers in the Army Reserves today. Van Roosen is only one of 112 general officers serving in the Active Service. “Becoming a general officer has been a combination of experience and working with outstanding soldiers and civilians,” said Van Roosen.
Van Roosen thanked the audience for their support and attendance, followed by his stated creed.
“I am expected to be honest, fair, and ethical in everything I do; that is what I will do for the time I am allotted to serve as a general officer in the Army Reserve,” Van Roosen said.
Van Roosen currently resides in Whispering Pines, N.C. with his wife Kerry, two teenage children and his father.