The Thirty-First Charles L. Decker Lecture in Administrative and Civil Law

Author:Major General Thomas J. Romig, USA Retired
This is an edited transcript of a lecture delivered on May 8, 2013 by Major General
(Retired) Thomas J. Romig to members of the staff and faculty, distinguished guests, and
officers attending the 61st Graduate Course at The Judge Advocate General’s Legal
Center and School, Charlottesville, Virginia. The lecture is in honor of Major General
Charles L. Decker, the founder and first Commandant of The Judge Advocate General’s
School, U.S. Army, in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the 25th Judge Advocate General of
the Army.
1 Thomas J. Romig became the 21st Dean of Washburn University School of Law and
Professor of Law in July 2007. A native of Manhattan, Kansas, Dean Romig most
recently served as deputy chief counsel for operations and Acting Chief Counsel for the
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Before joining the FAA, Dean Romig served four years as the 36th Judge Advocate
General of the United States Army with the rank of Major General. He led and
supervised an organization of more than 9,000 personnel, which was comprised of 5,000
active and reserve military and civilian attorneys and more than 4,000 paralegal and
support personnel spread throughout 328 separate offices in 22 countries. He oversaw a
world-wide legal practice including civil and criminal litigation, international law,
administrative law, labor and employment law, environmental law, claims, and ethics
During his career, Dean Romig was assigned to the 18th Airborne Corps and the 82d
Airborne Division as a Military Intelligence Officer; the 2d Armored Division, where he
prosecuted criminal cases and served as Chief of Criminal Law and Chief of Legal
Assistance; and the Judge Advocate General’s School, where he taught International
Law. His significant military positions included: Chief of Army Civil Law and Litigation
and Chief of Military Law and Operations, both in Washington, D.C. His other military
legal assignments included Chief of Planning for the JAG Corps; Staff Judge Advocate
for 32d Army Air Defense Command in Europe; and Staff Judge Advocate for U.S.
Army V Corps and U.S. Army forces in the Balkans.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Kansas State University and
was commissioned through the Army ROTC program. After serving six years as a
military intelligence officer, he was selected for the Army Funded Legal Education
Program, and he graduated with honors from the Santa Clara University School of Law,
where he served as an editor on the Santa Clara Law Review and as a member of the
Honors Moot Court Board.
Throughout his career, Dean Romig has received numerous awards and recognition,
including the following: United States Army Distinguished Service Medal; United States
Army Legion of Merit; and United States Army Meritorious Service Medal (five awards);
United States Senate Tribute for Military Service, Congressional Record June 14, 2005;
Kansas Senate Resolution #1833, March 2006, for Distinguished Military Service;
Kansas House Resolution #6021, March 2006, for Distinguished Military Service;
Hungarian Ministry of Defense Distinguished Military Service Award; Santa Clara
University School of Law Alumni Association Special Achievement Award; and Kansas
State University ROTC Distinguished Alumni Award. He retired from the United States
Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps in October 2005 after thirty-four years of service.
Thank you everyone and thank you Luis [LTC Rodriguez, Chair,
Administrative and Civil Law]. This has been a terrific opportunity for
my wife, Pam, and me to come back to the regimental home of the Judge
Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps here in Charlottesville. This is truly a
special place, and this is only the second time we’ve been back to
Charlottesville and to the JAG School since I retired in 2005. So this is a
very special time for us.
I want to publicly thank General Darpino and her staff for their
outstanding efforts in arranging my coming here, and particularly their
persistence in the shadow of the congressional sequester. I heard today
how it was done, and I am in awe of their ability to work the system and
get the right results—so that’s great. I especially want to thank
Lieutenant Colonel Rodriguez and Major Candace Besherse for their
efforts in getting us here and for all of their work.
Luis and I go back a little ways. I remember a different time when
we were flying in a small plane to a military base in rural Colombia to
meet with members of the Colombian JAG Corps. As we began our
approach, I noticed we started something that was akin to the death spiral
of a plane that has been shot down. And, of course surprised, I turned
and looked at Luis, and I said, “What the . . . ?” Luis says, “No problem,
sir, we do this so the FARC can’t shoot at us as much if we come in like
this”—the FARC being the Colombian rebels.
There are amazing things that our great JAG Corps does, and our
people do. The places you go, the things you do are amazing. Many
people never hear about it, but you always make a difference for our
country and for the world we live in. Our nation has asked so much of
all of you over the last ten to eleven years, and you have never let our
country down. So, as I said, I’m always amazed at what you do, and I
want to thank you for your service to our country.
In June 2009, the Kansas Bar Association awarded Dean Romig its Courageous
Attorney Award. The Kansas Bar Association created the Courageous Attorney Award
in 2000 to recognize a lawyer who displayed exceptional courage in the face of adversity,
thus bringing credit to the legal profession. The Courageous Attorney Award was
presented to Dean Romig for his time as the Judge Advocate General of the Army when
he took the position that waterboarding and other extraordinary methods of interrogation
were in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
This award is only given in those years when it is determined that there is a worthy

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