New York National Guard leader receives one star promotion as general officer
Story by COL Richard Goldenberg on 07/22/2019
New York Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Col. Jack James received his one-star rank as a general officer during a promotion ceremony held July 20, 2019 at the Joint Force Headquarters in Latham, N.Y.
James, a resident of Palm Harbor, Florida, led the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade from 2014-2019 and is slated to command the New York Army National Guard’s 53rd Troop Command in September.
His promotion ceremony followed the change of command from his leadership role in the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade.
“We’re so happy for the James family and for all of our New York Army National Guard,” said Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the New York State Adjutant General. “Jack is going to play a major role for us in his new command. He’s going to have all sorts of units in his new position, not just aviation.”
“To all of my comrades in arms, all the people who’ve touched my life, today is not about me,” James said. “It is about us. I would not be here without all of you.”
“To my Army buddies man of you here today, and many others who are not: seniors, peers, subordinates. Each of you played a role in helping to develop me,” James said. “We did a lot of good work over the years and we had a lot of fun doing it. I am so grateful to all of you.”
Brig. Gen. Jack James graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1992. He attended the Aviation Officer Basic Course and flight school at Fort Rucker, Ala. where he qualified in the AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter.
During active duty service, James served in key leadership and operational assignments at company and battalion or squadron level, including Camp Stanley, Korea; Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii and Fort Carson, Colo.
James deployed to Haiti for Operation Uphold Democracy in 1995 and to Bosnia-Herzegovina as Commander of R Troop of the 4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in 2000.
James left active service and was in New York City on terminal leave attending New York University when the terrorist attacks struck the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
“I made a resolution that day, September 11, 2001,” James said, “on West Street as I sat with first responders from all over the tristate area that I would rededicate myself to service: service to country, service to community and service to my fellow citizen.”
Shortly afterwards, James joined the New York Army National Guard in 2002.
“I had the great blessing of beginning the second act of my military career in the Army National Guard with the in the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion at the Marcy Avenue Armory in Brooklyn,” James said. “My charter was clear to serve.”
He served as operations and intelligence officer for the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion; executive officer of the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Assault Aviation Regiment and brigade operations officer for the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade.
James served as operations officer for New York’s aviation response to Hurricane Katrina in September 2005, coordinating an aviation task force that grew to 28 aircraft and 500 Soldiers from four states, providing hurricane relief the Gulf Coast region.
In 2011 James assumed command of the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion in Rochester, New York. He led his battalion for State Active Duty in response to Hurricane Sandy in November 2012, and in 2013 mobilized and deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The battalion provided aviation maintenance and sustainment to the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade through August 2014.
“In each one of the roles, I decided to maximize rather than minimize my efforts,” James said. I sought to train, coach and mentor fellow Soldiers, to solve problems and to leave every unit I was part of better than when I arrived.”
“Jack, you’ve commanded at every level and as a traditional Guardsman, working for New York Life, you’ve managed to balance that three-legged stool between service, family and work,” said Maj. Gen. Steven Ferrari, commander of the New York Army National Guard’s 42nd Infantry Division during James’ change of command ceremony preceding the promotion.
He is a Distinguished Graduate of the Army War College, Class of 2015, and several other military schools, including the Air War College, Command & General Staff College, Aviation Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms & Services Staff School, and the Electronic Warfare/Aircraft Survivability Course. James also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from New York University.
He is a Pilot-in-Command in the UH-60 Blackhawk and is rated in the AH-64 Apache, AH-1 Cobra, and UH-1 Huey helicopters, and several fixed wing aircraft.
James’ awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, two Armed Forces Expeditionary Service Medals, and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Korea Defense Service Medal, two Humanitarian Service Medals, three Overseas Service Ribbons, and the NATO Medal. He also holds the Master Army Aviator Badge, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, and other federal and state awards.
James is married to the former Lesia Koropey and has three children: Katherine, Juliana, and Nicholas. In his civilian career, he is a Corporate Vice President at the New York Life Insurance Company.
“This promotion is a tremendous sense of responsibility, taking care of Soldiers, their health and their welfare,” James said. “And that is my message to the junior Soldiers here today: don’t let the day pass you by. If you are going to do something, give it 100 percent. Do it right. Do your best. And let the chips fall where they may. You will land in a good place.”