By Brandy Cruz
Fort Hood (Now designated Fort Cavazos) Public Affairs
FORT HOOD (Now designated Fort Cavazos), Texas — Maj. Gen. John Richardson stepped onto the historic yellow 1st Cavalry Division patch on Cooper Field July 21, following the footsteps of First Team leaders from throughout the division’s 100 years, including those of his grandfather, who commanded in the division.
“If he was still with us today, he would tell us unequivocally that the highlight and greatest honor of his 28-year career was that he rode with the First Team. Yesterday, I took one of his patches that he wore in Korea and had them sewn onto my Army green service uniform,” Richardson told the audience. “And today, on my left sleeve, is one of his patches from occupied Japan. I draw strength and determination from those who came before us. We must draw strength and inspiration from our history from our veterans and from our legacy. That’s what it means to live the legend in the 1st Cavalry Division.”
Richardson officially assumed command of the 1st Cavalry Division, after a formal passing of the division colors from Lt. Gen. Pat White, III Corps and Fort Hood (Now designated Fort Cavazos) commander, who officially charged him with the responsibility of the America’s First Team and its 20,000 Soldiers. “General Richardson, I’ve got great trust and confidence in you. You know you’ve inherited a high-performing team and I know you’re going to take it even higher,” White told Richardson during the ceremony. “Your energy, your experience and your general love for Soldiers will continue to bring out the best in the First Team.”
When he came to Fort Hood (Now designated Fort Cavazos) in September 2020 as the deputy commander of III Corps, Richardson became synonymous with Operation Phantom Action, a forerunner to the “People First” initiative meant to improve readiness by focusing on building cohesive teams. During his speech, the new First Team commander echoed his statements about building teams and leaders leading by example.
“Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by people. People who make up teams that work hard together, who play hard together and who will fight hard together. Teams that build mutual trust so that everybody on the team is ready to accomplish the mission,” Richardson said. “Leaders who lead from the front, leaders who lead by personal example, who know, enforce and live the standards of the Army, the value of our profession, and who build inclusive teams.”
When Richardson rolled out Operation Phantom Action last fall, it included a five-day stand-up focused on team building at every echelon of leadership. Training calendars were cleared to provide the time for leaders to properly counsel, care for and learn more about their Soldiers. The top three priorities of the initiative were leaders getting to know their Soldiers, certifying leaders, and leaders holding leaders accountable when standards are not met.
He set the ball in motion right away, by first meeting with brigade commanders and sergeants major, then with the Soldiers across the installation. In September, Richardson said he met with leaders first because, for change to take place, it would take leaders being a positive role model for junior officers and noncommissioned officers by leading by example. Following Wednesday’s assumption of command, Richardson said one of the first things he will be doing as the First Team commander is going out into the units.
“I am going to get out and talk to the Soldiers and leaders of the units. The essence of leadership is presence. I will talk and listen to the Soldiers,” he said. “The bottom-up feedback from the Soldiers is what I want to get so we can take it to the next level.”
Richardson said he plans to earn the trust of his Soldiers and their families, through his actions, his genuine care and his compassion. He then charged the Soldiers in formation with the same expectation.
“My expectation is that each of you do the same for each other and together we will build a cohesive team of teams, led by adaptive leaders,” Richardson told the formation. “It is with the utmost humility that I share with you today that I am honored to join your ranks and proud to ride with the First Team.”
As he begins his new command, he said he will not forget the veterans who rode with the First Team throughout its storied history – veterans who wore the patch proudly and honorably. Richardson said he is overwhelmed and humbled to be the new 1st Cav. Div. commander. “The pride of wearing my grandfather’s patch that he wore when he was in the division and have the opportunity to walk in his footsteps,” Richardson said following the ceremony, “and the footsteps of all the great Soldiers, who have served in this division for the last 100 years, is overwhelming.”
The division’s previous commander, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Broadwater, has been reassigned as the deputy commanding general of V Corps at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
In a hand-written farewell note to the division, Broadwater thanked each of the troopers and family members for their “support and dedication in making the 1st Cavalry Division the most cohesive and lethal Division in the Army.”