Thomas Vandal, former commander of Eighth Army and 2nd ID, dies

A former commander of the Eighth Army and 2nd Infantry Division died Sunday after a battle with cancer.

Retired Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal commanded the Army’s highest headquarters unit on the Korean Peninsula from February 2016 until he relinquished the post in January. He played a major role in the deployment of U.S. troops to Camp Humphreys and the stationing of the THAAD air defense system to South Korea.

“LTG(R) Thomas S. Vandal … you were a tremendous leader and a charismatic mentor,” a message on the Eighth Army’s official Facebook said. “You were the epitome of the Eighth Army Motto: “Fight Tonight!” The hearts and prayers of the Eighth Army go out to the family and friends of LTG Vandal.”

The 1982 West Point graduate served prominently as one of the Army’s top generals in South Korea this decade, first taking the reins of 2nd ID in 2013 before becoming the Army’s top general in South Korea three years later. He handed over command to Lt. Gen. Michael Bills.

Vandal led soldiers on the peninsula during a period of ever-intensifying tensions with North Korea that reached a boiling point last year when Washington and Pyongyang threatened each other’s destruction. He was also credited with improving coordination between U.S. and South Korean troops.

During his career, he also served as director of operations, readiness and mobilization in the Army’s director of operations, readiness and mobilization at the Pentagon; commandant of the Army Field Artillery School; deputy commander of the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq; and commander of the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Germany.

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© 2018 the Stars and Stripes

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