Espinosa assumes garrison CSM duties
June 27, 2014
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel A. Espinosa Jr., assumed responsibility and authority as command sergeant major of the Fort Campbell Garrison from Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Bower in a rainy ceremony at the Garrison Headquarters, June 23.
A crowd of Soldiers, Family members, civilians and community leaders gathered under two tents as a steady rain fell throughout the event.
The command sergeant major is the senior enlisted advisor to the commander and carries out policies and standards of performance, training, appearance and conduct of enlisted personnel. The command sergeant major advises and initiates recommendations to the commander and staff in matters pertaining to noncommissioned officer support channels.
To signify the transfer of duties, Bower passed a ceremonial sword to Garrison Commander Col. David "Buck" Dellinger, who then presented it to Espinosa.
Bower had served as the command sergeant major for Fort Campbell since July 2012. Dellinger referred to him as "my friend, my coach and my ally" as he bid the outgoing command sergeant major and his Family farewell.
"Today is a solemn day. Today we say farewell to the Bower team -- Bower power," he said. "Over the past two years, Command Sgt. Maj. Bower and his Family have given all to this community and it's difficult to capture in a few minutes all their contributions."
Dellinger said that Bower helped to execute their vision to make Fort Campbell "the best Soldier-Family experience" for any Soldier stationed here, "by embracing this role as strategic community ambassador and sometimes adjudicator" outside the gates -- attending off-post events, engaging and inspiring meetings in the community.
"Probably the most important job he did was to protect our Soldiers and Families from the nefarious band of civilians who would prey on our military community," Dellinger said.
On post, Bower welcomed incoming Soldiers each week at the 1st Lt. Robert Kalsu Replacement Company (20th Replacement) and was instrumental in adding 16 hours of master resiliency training into the in-processing program.
"Like it or love it, you can't argue with the facts, over 15,000 Soldiers have received this training since October 2012 and suicides on this installation have significantly reduced," Dellinger said. "There's a lot of other efforts going on, but without a doubt, initial resiliency training is helping."
Dellinger noted that Bower made sure the gate access security guards had the proper equipment "to survive the weather and still maintain security for this post." He also "led in the Soldier for Life program as Fort Campbell has set the gold standard for transitioning Soldiers into the civilian sector with the best opportunity for success and the best opportunity to impact the community with the best Americans in our society," Dellinger said.
The garrison commander praised Bower's strength and adaptability during his tenure.
"The garrison command sergeant major, in his role by definition and by training, is a fish out of water. Sergeant major, you can flop around on the bank and gasp for air or you can evolve, grow limbs and transform your vital organs and thrive. That's what Command Sgt. Maj. Bower has done by evidence of his peers and attendance and the enormous trust and respect he has earned from our civilians," Dellinger said.
"Command Sgt. Maj. Espinosa: Are you ready to be a fish out of water and walk on the land? Your reputation has preceded you. I know that you are ready. I know that you have the experience and I know that you have the motivation to accept this challenge."
Bower's next assignment will be at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.
"Since my arrival in the summer of 2012, I have been amazed by the installation and local communities," Bower said. "As I leave, I now understand why Fort Campbell ranks as [one of] the best installations in the Army. I will definitely be driving away with fond memories of things that we have accomplished, the friends that I've made and the experiences I've had. Though the [garrison] has a few Soldiers assigned, the garrison impacts each and every Soldier and Family member on Fort Campbell. For me, this is the most rewarding and satisfying part about being a garrison command sergeant major. I wish you all the best with your next rendezvous with destiny."
Espinosa joins the garrison command group from Fort Riley, Kansas, where he was command sergeant major of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, and the battalion command sergeant major for 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery.
"I was born in New York, three blocks from Yankee Stadium. That's why I root for the Yankees, Giants, Knicks and Rangers," Espinosa told the crowd Monday. "In a pinch, … I'll root for the Mets, Jets, Nets and the Otters."
Espinosa has more than 25 years in service and has been deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. His awards include the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal.
He holds a bachelor's degree in public administration from Upper Iowa University and a Master's degree in business administration from Touro University International.
Espinosa and his wife, Vanessa, have a son Miguel, 16.
"As the command sergeant major for the garrison commander I will work to ensure Fort Campbell dedicates itself to always providing the best Soldier and Family experience," he said. "I will give all Fort Campbell Soldiers, Families, civilian workforce and surrounding communities 110 percent of my time and energy to make this the best installation in our Army. We will always sustain, support and defend. Air Assault!"