Farewell to the Soldiers of the 108th

12/05/2011  |  By Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Payne 108th Training Command (IET)
The Griffon

Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Payne, 108th Training Command (IET), along with some friends at the 2011 Drill Sgt. of the Year Competition Bar-B-Que at the new US Army Drill Sgt. School located at Ft. Jackson, S.C. (L to R) 1st Sgt. Frank Brand (USAR Ret.), Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Payne, 108th Training Command (IET), Command Sgt. Maj. “Pepper” Ellisor, (USAR Ret.) the first Commandant of 108th USAR Drill Sgt. School, Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Law, Commandant 108th USAR Drill Sgt. School and Brig. Gen. Ray Royalty, commanding general, 95th Training Division (IET). Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Marty A. Collins, 108th Training Command (IET) Public Affairs.

As my 27 year association with the 108th comes to a close I leave with not only great memories but also knowing that this command has given me much more than I could have ever given back in return. With the exception of going to the residence course at the Sergeants Major Academy in 1994 and being deployed to Iraq in 2006, the Griffon has been on my shoulder faithfully since 1984.

I am proud to have been a member of the first battalion in the history of the 108th; 1st Battalion, 485th Regiment, to have been mobilized in the service of our country in support of Operation Desert Storm and again to have been selected to be the Command Sergeant Major for Task Force Griffon as the 108th again answered the call of the nation in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

I think about those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for us to have the freedoms we have today, especially those that were once members of the extended 108th Training Command family. Eleven of whose names are etched on the monument in front of the 108th Headquarters, with the carved words, Never Forget.  Let us endeavor to Never Forget.

I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the great United States, the world and spend time in such exotic vacation spots such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Qatar. Because of this job I have been to most of the CONUS Army Installations, traveled to many historic battlefields and was given an up close personal tour of the USS Constitution, Old Ironsides.  I have slept in palaces and foxholes, and have seen firsthand some of the ancient lands of the Bible and the Koran.

Maj. Gen. James B. Mallory III, former commanding general, 108th Training Command (IET), Maj. Gen. Terry Wolff, commander, 1st Armor Division and Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Payne, 108th Training Command (IET) in Baghdad, Iraq in early 2010 visiting troops on the ground.

Courtesy Photo.

Because of it I have been to the Pentagon, to the White House with a private tour of the West Wing, met Secretaries of the Army, more congressmen and senators that I can remember, literally rubbed shoulders with the some of the greatest Soldiers of our time and all, yes ALL of the Sergeant’s Major of the Army.

Not bad benefits for a part time gig. What a great ride!

My raters, senior raters and reviewers look like a who’s who for the 108th:  Col. James Moore, Col. Andrew Straw, Brig. Gen.  Blake Williams, Brig. Gen. Karlynn Peltz O’Shaughnessy, Maj. Gen. Henry Robertson, Maj. Gen.  George Goldsmith, Maj. Gen.  Charles Luckey, Maj. Gen.  Charles McCartney, Maj. Gen. James Mallory and last but not least, Maj. Gen. Robert Stall. I have indeed been extremely blessed to have worked with such great leaders.

But I know that I stood on the shoulders of those Senior NCOs that came before me and I had a number of mentors in the 108th:  Sgt. Maj. Larry Deal, Command Sgt. Maj. Dana Jarrett, Command Sgt. Maj. Ron Moon, Command Sgt. Maj.  Bill Lucas, Command Sgt. Maj. Howard McKenzie, Command Sgt. Maj. Fred Sexton and Division Command Sgt. Maj. Johnny Dwiggins, Division Command Sgt. Maj Sam Rule and Division Command Sgt. Maj Roxanne Castile.

But the two that gave me the most personal guidance and really showed me how to be a senior NCO were Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Nance at the 1st Brigade and Command Sgt. Maj. John Perrill at the 6th Brigade Professional Development. Nance mentored me on how to be a Command Sgt. Maj. and John Perrill took that mentoring to the next level.

I am also proud to have been associated with the Iroquois Division, the Iron Men of Metz and Terry Allen’s Timberwolves.  Thank you to Maj. Gen. Mallory for having the belief in me to select me to do this job and thank you Maj. Gen. Stall for the privilege of allowing me to be your battle buddy for the last year.

I need to thank my best friend in the 108th, 1st Sgt. Chip Haynes (Ret.) for befriending me on my first battle assembly with the 108th and for allowing Beverly and I to be a part of his family since.

But it is to you the Soldiers of the 108th, of all ranks that I say a major Thank You for allowing me to serve as your Command Sgt. Maj. for these last four years and to be a member of the 108th family for the last 27 years. Many of you have contributed to the success of my career in the 108th but I cannot possibly thank you all by name.

Last but not least, my wife Beverly. For most of us that are fortunate enough to serve at these senior positions there is absolutely no way we could have achieved what we have accomplished without having a great partner.  Beverly has supported me in all of the challenges that the Army Reserve has thrown at me for most of my 27 years with the 108th. I am and will always be in debt to her and cannot begin thank her enough for her support.

Time and time again people ask me, why after all these years do I continue to do this. It’s because I get to work with Soldiers, the true heroes of our nation, the best slice of the demographics that our nation has to offer. And to steal a line from my oldest brother’s beloved Corps, the Few and the Proud. I always add that while I enjoy my civilian job and it puts food on our table, being an American Soldier and getting to serve with you is what feeds my soul.

Please give Command Sgt. Maj. Rocci DeRezza the support you afforded me as he and Maj. Gen. Stall become your new command team. It has indeed been a great honor and a privilege to have served with all of you. Thank you, God Bless you and your families, all of our comrades in uniform and the United States of America. Army Strong!

Victory Does Indeed Start Here!

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