From the 104th Command Sergeant Major

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I am writing this article while sitting in my office on a Monday; extremely unusual as I should be at work, but I am at home today since it is the Memorial Day holiday. I realize when you read this it will be several months later, but I want to preface my surroundings in order for you to understand my thoughts on this day that means so much to so many of us who have and are currently serving.

Like many of you, I have lost several “battle buddies” throughout the years. Some I have served with, some I have trained and some who I just knew by name. For those that know me personally, I always speak of my very close friend Sgt. 1st Class Robert V. Derenda who paid the ultimate sacrifice on August 5, 2005. I am thinking of Bob today as I do every day since that Friday when we got the word from our Iraqi counterparts that he was dead. Today I am thinking about the legacy that Bob left behind.

Visiting with Sgt. 1st Class Derenda (left) during a mission that brings him to my post.

He was a senior drill sergeant in B Company, 100th Training Division. We had pushed troops together at Fort Knox and spent many drill weekends at the reserve center. For those that were lucky enough to know him, he was a dedicated, hardworking driven individual with a hilarious, dry sense of humor. He was different from the rest of us in this unit, as he had moved to Paducah from Buffalo, New York. Bob had a much different background being the son of Polish immigrants. He often spoke of his father who was a retired accountant.

I am telling you this to shed a little light on one of my close friends that I think about every day, which charges me to continue the things that I do both in the civilian world and the Army Reserve. The main reason is to stop and ask yourself what legacy you will leave behind. We all have a last day whether it is at our civilian jobs, the service or just life. That is a fact that none of us can argue and, whether we like it or not, we will all leave some sort of legacy behind in all those situations.

Soldiers with B Company, 100th Division prior to heading to the airport. Sgt. 1st Class Derenda standing (center).

This is especially true in this unit where we are training the future of the Army, either as enlisted or future officers. I think about this as I am growing closer every year to the end of my career. I know that no one wants to talk about that, but the Army is literally structured so that if you are gone tomorrow someone else can step up. We never miss a beat. It is just the way things are supposed to happen. So, I ask you to take a moment, if you have not, and do a self-assessment as to what our future Soldiers are going to say about you. Will they say that he or she just always talked about themselves and their accomplishments as we all know that person? Will they say that it was obvious that they cared about soldiers and wanted to see them succeed, or did they become a drill sergeant just so they could hold power over someone in order to compensate for some short fall they have somewhere in their ego?

At the airport before we depart. We will separate once in country and join the 98th Division as part of the Military Transition Team (MITT). 98th Division commander Brig. Gen. Robinson (center).

I am just asking that if you are still reading my article stop and take a moment and think about what legacy you are leaving behind and that you think about those that have come before us and what they meant to us and who we are today. I can promise you that I would not be where I am if it were not for my friend Bob Derenda.

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