General Mark Simmerly

Alum Mark Simerly met his wife Cynthia as first years at UR. She works as vice president of advancement for Military Child Education Coalition, a nonprofit that provides educational support for children of military families.

Alum went from top marks to three stars

January 22, 2024


Mark Simerly, a 1984 graduate who recently completed his tenure as commanding general at Fort Gregg-Adams outside of Petersburg, Virginia, will be promoted to the rank of lieutenant general on Feb. 1 and become director of the Defense Logistics Agency.

The Senate confirmed his appointment and elevation to three-star general in December. In his new role, he will lead an agency that manages the end-to-end global defense supply chain for the five military services, which includes 11 combatant commands, other federal, state, and local agencies, and partner and allied nations.

The agency provides more than $45 billion a year in goods and services around the world, including fuel, medical supplies and equipment, uniforms, and construction and military equipment. If it were a company, it would rank in the top third of the Fortune 500 list.

“I am grateful and humbled to be selected,” Simerly said. While he will conduct a formal assessment of the agency once there, his overall focus will be to improve its ability to support the requirements of the Department of Defense.

Simerly’s impressive career includes numerous command assignments. He comes to his new post after two years at Fort Gregg-Adams, where he served as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command, helped resettle thousands of refugees evacuated from Afghanistan, and oversaw the changing of the base’s name from Fort Lee.

Prior to that post, he headed the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command in Daegu, South Korea, where he was responsible for the transport and delivery of goods, supplies, and personnel in a country technically still at war. Other jobs include directing DLA troop support in Philadelphia from 2017 to 2019, serving as director of logistics for U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2013 and 2014, and commanding troops at the brigade, battalion, and company level over the course of five combat tours.

Simerly, a cum laude graduate and English and journalism major, attributes much of his success as a highly decorated Army officer to the strong liberal arts education and leadership opportunities he received during his college years.

“I have benefited throughout my career from the intellectually and academically challenging environment at UR and exposure I had to a wide range of views,” he said. Serving as an ROTC leader and working on The Collegian were among many experiences that taught valuable lessons about teamwork, critical thinking, and communications.

Simerly and his family recently moved to Fort Belvoir in Fairfax, Virginia, as he awaits his new job. He and his wife Cynthia Eckenrod Simerly, also a 1984 graduate, met as first years and began dating as seniors. Her support during his career and multiple overseas deployments have been key to his accomplishments, he said.

The Simerlys have a daughter, Alison, who lives in Baltimore and works in international development for Catholic Relief Services, and a son, Luke, who is completing the Infantry Officers Basic Leadership Course at Fort Monroe, Georgia.

“Having the privilege to serve our nation over the past 34 years is one I never take lightly,” he said. “I am so grateful to be able to serve this country.”