Col. James J. Zacchino Jr., returning to North Country as new Fort Drum Garrison Commander


Col. James J. Zacchino Jr., who will assume command of the garrison on July 23, has a history at Fort Drum that goes back four decades. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — The incoming garrison commander at Fort Drum is no stranger to the North Country.

The 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum is preparing for its change of command ceremony scheduled for Friday where Colonel James J. Zacchino Jr., will take command of the garrison. According to Fort Drum, this will mark his return to the North Country as he has spend time at the installment every decade since the 1980s.

The first time Zacchino was in the region was in 1986 when he father served as a noncommissioned officer with the 10th Mountain Division 10th Supply and Transportation Battalion. At the time, Fort Drum was in a “build phase,” construction new facilities, roads and homes. Him and his family were one of the first to move into a new housing area in Clayton, New York.

Zacchino then attended Thousand Islands High School from his freshman year until his junior year.

He then returned to Fort Drum in the summer of 1997 as an ROTC cadet. He participated in Cadet Troop Leader Training with the 10th Signal Battalion.

“That was very tactical-focused, but it was fun,” Zacchino said. “It was my first time in front of active-duty troops, shadowing a platoon leader and learning what they do.”

Ten years later, Zacchino once again returned to Fort Drum where he served as the chief of logistics training and advising team with the 10th Sustainment Brigade. However, within three months, Zacchino deployed as part of an advising team to train Iraqi security forces at Camp Taji, Iraq.

Upon his return, he served as the support operations officer and executive officer of the 548th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade. He again deployed to Afghanistan as the deputy brigade support operations officer.

Zacchino noted that he enjoyed his time at Fort Drum.

“It was five years, with two deployments and a lot of field time,” he said. “My son was born in the Bronx while I was on deployment, but he grew up here. It was a nice time. Every single time, I have had positive experiences here, and that’s why we are excited to be back.”

Ahead of assuming his new, and his fourth return to Fort Drum, he added that he has been settling his family into the area.

“I’ve also been going around post, meeting people, and getting my bearings again,” he said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to be here, and it means quite a bit coming back to a place I’ve been multiple times before. Fort Drum has a special place in my heart for both me and my family.”

Col. James J. Zacchino Jr. will take command of the garrison on Friday, July 23. He will assume command from Col. Jeffrey P. Lucas who served as garrison commander at Fort Drum since July 26, 2019. The ceremony is set to begin at 10 a.m.

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