Norfolk District invites public to virtual change of command ceremony July 12

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District
Published June 27, 2024
Employees stand for group photo in front of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Norfolk District bldg. on June 27, 2024.

Employees stand for group photo in front of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Norfolk District bldg. on June 27, 2024.

Col. Sonny B. Avichal

Col. Sonny B. Avichal

NORFOLK, Va. – Col. Sonny B. Avichal will assume command of the Norfolk District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in a change of command ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m. July 12 at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott.

The public is welcomed to attend virtually via WebEx

Col. Avichal attended the National War College in Washington DC where he obtained a Masters Degree in National Security Strategy. He received his commission as an Engineer Officer in 2002 and has served in leadership and staff positions in Iraq, South Korea, Germany, and multiple locations in the United States. He has previously commanded the Nashville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, from 2019, to 2021. Before assuming command of the Nashville District, Col. Avichal served as the Deputy Commander of the New England District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Col. Avichal will serve as the 61st commander of the Norfolk District, succeeding Col. Brian P. Hallberg, who has commanded the Norfolk District since 2021. 

Brig. Gen. John P. Lloyd, Commander and Division Engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, North Atlantic Division, will preside over the ceremony. The change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition that serves to ensure a unit and its personnel are never without official leadership. 

As commander of Norfolk District, Col. Avichal will manage USACE’s water resources development and navigable waterways operations for the Rappahannock, York, James and Chowan river basins, and the Chesapeake Bay coastal basin. Col. Avichal will also be responsible for the Corps’ military design and construction projects for Army, Army Reserve and Air Force military installations throughout Virginia. He also will manage regulatory, environmental restoration, flood risk reduction (including hurricane and storm damage reduction) and disaster response activities.

Avichal holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the United States Military Academy, a Master of Arts from Webster University and a master’s degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College. Additionally, he is a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) in the state of Virginia.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers first established a permanent presence in Virginia on July 1, 1879, when Capt. Charles B. Phillips opened the U.S. Engineers Office in the Norfolk Custom House. The Army designated the Norfolk U.S. Engineers Office a “District” in 1908 and, in 1918, assigned its geographic boundaries. In 1923, the 27 employees of the Norfolk District moved into Fort Norfolk, an historic star fort built in 1795 to guard the Elizabeth River approach to the city. 

Today, Norfolk District is comprised of over 400 Department of the Army civilians and a small staff of Army officers who work together at the district's Fort Norfolk headquarters and at numerous field offices throughout Virginia.