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Posted 3/1/2016

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By Cheryl A. Moore, Public Affairs Specialist
Omaha District Corps of Engineers


Richard G. Totten, District Counsel for the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, closed the books on an illustrious and honest career February 29.

"The broken lines on my face are not lines of age or sorrow, rather they represent the ethical values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage," said Totten. "These values served me well over the years. They are the foundation of any good organization."

Totten's solid foundation was cemented with 19-plus years of federal civil service, 14 with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, which began with the Honolulu District in 2002 as the Deputy District Counsel. After five years in Hawaii, he was selected to be the District Counsel for the Albuquerque District until he joined the Omaha District in 2008.

His interest in law was sparked by a very creative and interesting undergraduate Business Law professor at the University of Connecticut, the state from which he hails. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, with High Honors, and a Juris Doctorate from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. Totten holds a Master of Legal Letters equivalent degree from the U. S. Army Judge Advocate General's School in Virginia, a Master of Laws with High Honors in Government Procurement Law from George Washington University, in Washington, D. C. and he has completed the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College program, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Totten wore the Army uniform, first as a Soldier in military intelligence when drafted during the Vietnam conflict, and then as an active-duty lieutenant colonel.

He is a member in good standing of the Supreme Court of the United States; the Supreme Court of Texas and Texas Bar; the Supreme Court of Colorado and Colorado Bar; and the U. S. Court of Military Appeals and the U. S. Court of Military Review. "As a member of good standing with the Supreme Court of the United States, I am allowed to practice law before that tribunal, " he said. "Trying cases at that level is a rare honor, which I have not experienced. Being admitted is really one of prestige," he said.

"It's an honor to serve our country in any capacity-whether it's to successfully lead a function for the Corps, to mentor individuals one is lucky to have in their charge, or to render quality services in a timely manner," Totten said.

Those under Totten's charge were challenged to describe him with one word. What came back was; Generous, Knowledgeable, Loyal and Barefoot, which is where the rest of the story begins.

Totten shared some of the hardest cases he faced throughout his career. "When I was a prosecutor or defense attorney, I'd say the preparation and trying of murder cases were the most difficult," he said.

Totten also pointed out the Omaha District's most challenging matters involve litigation, due to the protracted nature of the cases in dispute and the question of who has the rights to water impounded by the United States in the reservoirs we manage along the Missouri River.

In his departing message to staff, he wrote, "To all my dedicated Corps of Engineers Teammates, New District Counsel: With the permission of Col. Henderson, I have the pleasure to announce that Tom Tracy, former Deputy District Counsel, is officially your new District Counsel.

He went on to say Tracy is a very capable attorney and a wonderful mentor of people in the Office of Counsel. "In addition to his lawyering and mentoring skills, Tom has a pleasant personality and possesses a keen sense of humor," said Totten.

With his keen sense of humor, Tracy had said this about Totten, "He often bought lunch for the office. Of course, they now expect the same from me. Maybe that is my worst memory of Rick," he said. "I think he set me up!"

Totten's rebuttal was, "It's time for this old Soldier to ride off into the sunset. Sadly, I do it with a heavy heart."

Totten's plans for retirement are to enjoy the beauty of the Rocky Mountains with his wife as they enjoy the serenity of their home in the mountains of Colorado. "This certainly includes trout fishing," Totten concluded.