I would like to take this opportunity to say how truly honored I am to be selected as the 104th Division CSM. This has been the most humbling experience of my entire life to date. I could never have dreamed 29 years ago that an eighteen-year-old boy stepping off the bus at Parris Island, South Carolina, and placing his feet upon those famous yellow footprints would someday be afforded the honor of such a prestigious position. As I reflect on how I got here, I can sum it up in one phrase that was drilled into me as a young Marine and I still use every time I stand in front of Soldiers, “it’s not about you “ .
I honestly cannot recall the first class I sat through, nor the first NCODP where I was taught this phrase to not only live by, but to build a career on as well. It seems simple to most, but it truly is the basis for every decision I make in the military as well as the civilian world. I feel if you can take a step back and look at every choice you make and draw a line to that statement then you are making the right one.
This is not something I have to explain to anyone in this command as it is the ground in which all training is conducted. Yes, for the ones of us who have been through it, we know the sense of pride of walking across the stage and donning the coveted Drill Sergeant Hat that you have earned, or the feel of walking out in front of the Company formation and falling them in and giving the “right face, forward march.” However, when you step back and look at it, that is not about you either. Any instructor, be it Drill Sergeant or not, will tell you the true reward of that position is watching someone develop, and knowing that in a small or large way a seed was planted that made a difference in someone else’s career and life.
It seems cliche to say, but I honestly feel like we have the most important mission in the Army. No other unit can claim to have such an effect on the military as we do, not only in the 104th Division, but also combined with the other two Divisions under the 108th Training Command. Together, we literally shape the future of the Army. We all have the stories that we remember from our initial training that have stayed with us throughout our careers, stories that have molded us into what we are today as Soldiers and leaders. There is an opportunity for every instructor, whether a Drill Sergeant at BCT or a demonstrator on a lane, to say something or demonstrate a task that will stick with an individual for the rest of their lives, or in some cases, even save it. That is one of the most powerful missions anyone can ever be asked to do in my opinion.
I must give the leaders and mentors I have worked for and beside years of credit for getting me to where I am today. Many of them had no idea that by just watching how they interacted or performed their day to day duties they were helping to form a someday division Command Sergeant Major. I have so many to thank that if I named them all, I would just be leaving many out. I am saying this to remind those reading my article that I absolutely know that I did not get here on my own. I believe every Soldier will say the same. I also say this to remind you to take caution in your words and actions as you too are shaping other Soldiers in their futures, either right or wrong.
I will conclude with this thought: I am truly honored to be selected for this position. I make this promise to Brig. Gen. Fisher as well as the 2,367 Soldiers of the 104th Training Division, I know this position is not about me. I will also heed the advice and guidance of my mentor and friend Command Sergeant William Phipps to “stay humble”.
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