Sgt. Maj. Prioleau relinquishes USAG-KA duties Dec. 5
December 11, 2013
KWAJALEIN ATOLL, Republic of the Marshall Islands -- Sgt. Maj. Roderick Prioleau ended his tenure at U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll Dec. 5 in a Relinquishment of Responsibility at the Island Memorial Chapel.
The ceremony showcased the passing of a sword between the hands of Prioleau and U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll commander Col. Nestor Sadler. It is a rite of passage steeped in military tradition that signifies the transfer of official responsibilities from the incumbent back to command, formally ending Prioleau's tenure as the base's highest ranking enlisted advisor.
Sadler welcomed the crowd of nearly 100 people at the chapel, extending thanks to everyone in attendance from fellow enlisted and commissioned Army officers to civilians and contractors. Special visits to the ceremony were made by Republic of the Marshall Islands Iroij Senator Mike Kabua, Iroijlaplap (Paramount chief) and former RMI president Imata Kabua, RMI post master General Heran Bellu, KALG protocol Officer Jesse Riketa and RMI liaison Lanny Kabua.
"It is only fitting to have so many people here this morning to bid farewell to Sgt. Maj. Prioleau and to recognize the great contributions to the Kwajalein community [he's made]."
Sadler spoke at length about Prioleau's larger-than-life character and dedication to the job during his 18 months working within command on USAG-KA. He made it clear that the bonds Prioleau had made on the island were both professional and personal in nature--and certain to endure well into the future.
"Conducting this ceremony is strongly difficult for me," the colonel said. "Because the command is not only losing a great sergeant major--but I'm losing a great friend."
Prioleau had been instrumental in helping Sadler, who arrived four months ago, get up to speed on the complexities of running a state-of-the-art U.S. Army missile defense installation in a foreign country. But he has also been a smiling face and dependable comrade that the commander and his wife, Monica, had been so grateful to have while they adjusted to life so far away from home. Sadler told the story of how Prioleau had taken him and his wife under his wing their very first night on the island.
"The sergeant major said, 'Hey guys, don't worry. I'll make sure to get the colonel and his wife back to their quarters for the night,'" Sadler said. "Unbeknownst to me, that night lasted well through midnight. But during that night … I paid attention; I listened to everything he had to say; and I took his sage advice. … During that night we were able to bond, build that trust, caring and mutual respect that was forged forever. You see, I couldn't have asked for a better sergeant major. But more importantly, a friend."
After wishing Prioleau good luck and many blessings during his next assignment at Fort Bliss, Texas, Sadler stepped away to let Prioleau take to the podium under a wave of applause from the crowd.
He began his address by thanking everyone in attendance and giving a brief explanation of what he strove for during his tenure on USAG-KA.
"It has been an honor to be part of team Kwajalein," Prioleau said. "I have tried to do my best to support the Reagan Test Site, the mission and its customers. I have tried to do my best to work hard to support our Soldiers and … Army civilians … contract employees, families and our host nation partners."
Prioleau expressed gratitude for having the chance to work with Sadler in managing the garrison.
"A special recognition for United States Garrison-Kwajalein commander--aka Nestor Sadler," Prioleau said gesturing toward the colonel. "It's not easy acknowledging that a Soldier of my character would get the opportunity to work with a Special Forces airborne ranger. Soldiers in many units dream about working alongside the extraordinary leaders like yourself, sir. … We dream about being part of your lineage. … My dream has come true."
He said that, while it was an honor to serve with the colonel on the job, it was also nice to have Sadler as a friend.
"Thanks for giving me the opportunity to help lead team Kwajalein and being your battle buddy," Prioleau said. "Along the way, I really enjoyed the talks while cruising around in the [golf] cart doing base ops'. I enjoyed those ocean view cookouts."
Prioleau discussed the joy he took directing the litany of projects he tackled as USAG-KA's highest-ranking enlisted advisor. Tasked to manage garrison operations, Prioleau had a hand in anything from planning and managing the RMI Trade Fairs and to handling all the real property tasks on the island. Working with his team to improve base operations is an experience he will take with him on future assignments, he said.
"I am proud of what we have accomplished together. We've tackled several tough challenges and made significant improvements to many of our most important programs," he said. "We have enhanced the access to services and improved the quality of life for our Soldiers, Army civilians, contractors and families. In doing so, we have increased the capabilities and overall readiness of team Kwajalein."
Looking forward, Prioleau talked about how much he will miss the little things that make Kwajalein special.
"I'll never forget riding my shiny bike," he said. "Greased down and looking pretty on Emon Beach while watching a baggo game and divers coming out of the water."
Even walking to the KRS billing office to pay his phone bill and chat with employees there was a treat for him, he said.
He said he'll miss catching the sunsets with his friends and playing in all the sports leagues that residents occupy themselves with on Kwajalein. Indeed, the volleyball games, softball tournaments and soccer matches will be a bit quieter now with Prioleau gone. His booming voice that had cheered on so many teams during the last 18 months had become quite the staple at these gatherings.
In the end Prioleau's attitude on USAG-KA, both in uniform and off duty, reflected the way in which he viewed the folks on USAG-KA: as a family. It was not a group of random U.S. Soldiers and contractors he was cheering on and chatting up in the community. He and everyone on the island are part of the same family, he said--"team Kwajalein."