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District commander honored by local SAME chapter

Los Angeles District Public Affairs
Published June 11, 2013
Col. Mark Toy, commander of the Los Angeles Ditrict of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was honored by the Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of American Military Engineers during a luncheon June 11.

Col. Mark Toy, commander of the Los Angeles Ditrict of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was honored by the Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of American Military Engineers during a luncheon June 11.

LOS ANGELES—The commander of the Los Angeles District, Col. Mark Toy, was honored by the Society of American Military Engineers during a luncheon June 11 for the leadership he has brought as the post’s president during the past three years.

The organization presented him with a plaque thanking him for his service and wished him luck on his next assignment, when he departs the district July 11.

“Col. Toy quickly understood his role as the district commander and fully embraced his role as the president of the SAME LA Post,” said Robert Blasberg, the post’s first vice president.  “It’s been a great three years.  It’s been a pleasure working with you.  I can speak for everyone here that we’re going miss you.  On behalf of all of us at SAME I just want to say thank you and we want to express our gratitude and appreciation for all you’ve done for us.”

Toy spoke to the crowd of SAME members about his time in command, highlighting the stark contrasts in the district’s workload over the years, due to the impacts of fiscal uncertainty, as well as significant projects the district has executed.

“LA River continues to be the center of gravity for the Los Angeles District,” Toy said.  “My second day on the job as commander, I was the third speaker behind Lisa Jackson, EPA administrator, Mayor Villaraigosa and then me.  My sense was that the LA River was going to be very important during the time that I was going to be here.  It was really something that struck at the heartstrings of people of California.”

Toy also talked about his strategic initiatives for the district and the genesis of the mantra he adopted of “Building Strong and Taking Care of People.”

“I did an assessment in my first 90 days about what I wanted to do in the district,” Toy said.  “I looked back on the presentation I gave SAME in October 2010, and I noticed that I had written down ‘People, Training, and Facilities” as the areas I was going to focus on.”

Toy explained that his wife, May, helped develop the theme and the now-iconic logo depicting the words in a pyramid with the word “people” acting as its foundation.

“I formulated the vision and strategic direction in which I tried to take the district,” Toy said.  “In my mind—during my career and the time I’ve been in the Army, it has always been about the soldier—it has always been about the people.”

Toy’s next assignment will begin in August as chief of staff for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Washington, D.C.