News Releases

Portland District Welcomes New Leader

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District
Published July 21, 2020
Official photo of Colonel Michael D. Helton

Official photo of Colonel Michael D. Helton

Brig. Gen. Peter D. Helmlinger accepts the colors (flag) from Col. Arron L. Dorf transferring leadership to incoming commander Col. Michael D. Helton

Brig. Gen. Peter D. Helmlinger accepts the colors (flag) from Col. Arron L. Dorf transferring leadership to incoming commander Col. Michael D. Helton

The Portland District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a new leader.

Col. Michael D. Helton, the District’s 63rd commander pledged to serve the northwest and the nation in a virtual change-of-command ceremony broadcast live on YouTube from the District’s downtown headquarters, today.

“I am devoted to tackling the tough issues we face and finding practical, innovative and revolutionary solutions,” said Helton, a Texas native.

Brig. Gen. Peter D. Helmlinger, the Northwest Division commander, said Helton brings the right blend of technical skills, leadership and experience that are the hallmark of the U.S. Army Engineer Regiment. 

“I am confident he will lead the Portland team to new heights,” said Helmlinger who presided over the first-of-its-kind virtual ceremony for the district.

Helton replaces Col. Aaron L. Dorf who guided the District through the 2017 Eagle Creek wildfire, high water events on the Willamette and Rogue rivers and the 2019 emergency Bonneville Lock & Dam navigation lock outage. During Dorf’s command, the District also celebrated the rehabilitation of Jetty A and North Jetty, two of the three jetties the District is restoring as part of the mouth of the Columbia River Jetties Rehabilitation Project.

“Aaron Dorf is an excellent example of the kind of leadership we have today and the kind we will need as we enter these unpredictable years ahead,” said Helmlinger following the traditional passing of the unit’s colors. “For three years, he has handled the pressures of command at Portland district extremely well. In the process he has helped forge an even stronger bond between our customers’ needs and our capability.”

Some of the challenges Helton faces include maintaining aging infrastructure, navigating water-use agreements, leading the discussion on the divestment of fish hatcheries as well as defining the skills and competencies of the future workforce in a telework environment.

The Portland District has one of the Nation's most comprehensive and diversified civil works programs which provides vital public engineering services to the Pacific Northwest and the Nation during peace and war to strengthen our security, promote a strong economy, and enhance environmental sustainability. Covering most of Oregon and southwestern Washington, the District operates locks and dams along the Columbia River, operates dams in the Willamette Valley for flood risk management, maintains Oregon's coastal rivers for navigation and leads the Nation in hydropower generation, all while ensuring equal attention to environmental protection and restoration, fish and wildlife enhancement and recreation.

John L. Morgan

Release no. 20-059

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