FORT BLISS, Texas - The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy honored one of its most distinguished former students Monday, with the dedication of a foyer recognizing the achievements of Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) William "Joe" Gainey. On Oct. 1, 2005 Gainey became the first Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a newly created position.

A foyer in the academy's west wing now includes a tribute to Gainey's SEAC appointment, containing a display of the SEAC colors, a portrait and an article from The NCO Journal detailing his 33-year Army career.

The tribute follows the words Gainey once passed along to Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond Chandler, USASMA commandant: "Pride is contagious." Chandler said his first conversation with Gainey included that phrase. Chandler met with Gainey earlier in his career at Ft. Polk, when both Soldiers were with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

"He told me that being in the regiment was an honorable thing, that being a sergeant major in the United States Army was a privilege, and that pride was contagious," Chandler said at a ceremony prior to the foyer display's unveiling. "And that became a motto for me and something I followed the rest of my Army career."

Retired Marine General Peter Pace, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also spoke at the ceremony. It was Pace who appointed Gainey to the position of SEAC.

"I sat down and asked him if he would accept the job, and he said 'you bet I will,'" said Pace, the first Marine appointed to the highest-ranking military office. "It was a happy day for both of us."

Pace said that as his senior enlisted advisor, Gainey would go out and talk to enlisted Soldiers. After Pace talked to officers, the two would compare notes. Among the accomplishments during his tenure as SEAC, Gainey pointed to longevity pay and the ability for service members to pass college money on to their children.

A Class 41 graduate of USASMA, Gainey said he got "chills" walking through the halls of the USASMA again, and had some advice for current students.

"Don't take yourself too seriously, and enjoy the class," Gainey said after the ceremony. "It won't teach you how to be a sergeant major; it's going to teach you how to communicate effectively."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16