Outgoing division command sergeant major bids farewell to Fort Drum
March 12, 2010
FORT DRUM, N.Y. - For nearly 29 years, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum Command Sgt. Maj. James W. Redmore has faithfully served the Army. As he prepares to say goodbye to Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division Family, he shared his thoughts on why he joined the Army to why hand-to-hand combat is important.
In April 1981, Redmore boarded a train in Harvey, Ill., bound for Chicago and the Military Entrance Processing Station there.
"I joined the Army when I was 17. I left high school a little bit early under unfavorable conditions," he said. "I felt that it'd probably be in my best interest to pursue this path and get my focus back on track. My father was in the military, so I figured it'd probably be something that would help me out and help me mature."
Redmore said he was fortunate to hold satisfying and rewarding jobs that he liked, and he wanted to come into work every morning.
"As far as personal reward, I would probably say my job as a command sergeant major because of the authority I was given to support Soldiers and helped my commanders to get the best we possibly could out of the Soldiers that we served. I can't think of anything that was more rewarding than doing something like that."
From day one of his career in the Noncommissioned Officer Corps, Redmore said he always has focused on Soldiers first.
"I love the Army, I love Soldiers, and I know what's important as far as being a Soldier. I don't want people to treat me inappropriately or treat me in any other way than with dignity and professionalism," he said. "So I just remember the golden rule. I always have. You can't get a better response out of Soldiers than you can when you treat them with dignity and professionalism."
As he transitioned from talking about his Soldier-first approach, Redmore shared his thoughts on the years he has spent here.
"The Soldiers, the leaders and the commanders have been nothing short of excellent. I've had the absolute best time here on Fort Drum over the last seven years," he said. "I attribute that to the great Soldiers, the great noncommissioned officers and commanders that I've had the privilege to associate with."
When Redmore arrived in 2003 as the Division Artillery command sergeant major, his first commander here was a Vietnam veteran whom he said was a true professional who believed in everything that was important about being a warrior.
He recalled Brig. Gen. John Nicholson, then-Col. Nicholson, former 3rd Brigade Combat Team commander, whom Redmore remembered as a young captain when he was a staff sergeant, as another leader who made an impact on him. He said Nicholson is clearly a remarkable human being and truly the best warrior.
"Then of course, there is Lieutenant General Michael L. Oates, director of the Joint IED Defeat Organization," Redmore said. "He selected me to be his (10th Mountain Division) command sergeant major. ... (He) epitomized what it's about to be a commander and a general officer. He is a man I'll never forget."
Oates, former 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, said he chose Redmore from a number of superb candidates, knowing the division was headed to Iraq. He now considers Redmore a personal friend and said he was the best part of their command team.
"He is the most technically qualified NCO, tactically qualified leader and one of the finest men I have ever met," Oates said. "Redmore is a 'Soldier's Soldier' - one of the most dedicated and capable NCOs I have known in 31 years. Every Soldier looks at him (and) says with pride, 'that's my sergeant major.'
"Jim Redmore's lasting contribution to the Army is the thousands of Soldiers, NCOs and officers that he has professionally developed - largely through personal example of competence, professionalism and strength of character," Oates added.
Redmore has spent the last few months working with Maj. Gen. James L. Terry, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander.
"(Major General) Terry and I have a history back when I was a brigade command sergeant major," Redmore explained. "He's an individual who focuses on trying to teach and educate subordinate leaders during every engagement.
"It was inspiring to sit and listen to him because of his ability to motivate us by teaching us to be better and educating us in what was going on in theater and what we could do to help influence our particular situation within our sector."
Terry said Redmore is a man with whom he has shared the privilege of command. He said Redmore rose through the ranks, and Soldiers found strength in his leadership as he shared his experience and wisdom with each one he met.
"In fact, this man's legacy can be found in those who serve. He is the best of the best. The impact this man has had and that he has made on our Army is incomparable," Terry said. "Jim Redmore's hallmark is mentorship. He is a consummate mentor; teaching, coaching, guiding and developing Soldiers is a constant with him."
Every Soldier who has worked with Redmore knows he's a big believer in hand-to-hand combat. He said he joined the Army to fight, and if Soldiers want to be able to survive on the battlefield, they must be better than the enemy.
"One of the most important skills that (warriors have) is to understand and be proficient in defending themselves; that's what I focus on," Redmore said. "I mean, whether it's shooting skills or open-hand combat or anyway you take another man's life, that's what we have to be proficient in."
As he leaves the Army, Redmore said he hopes to leave behind a small piece of advice that has helped him.
"There is something I've lived by ... that is probably the most simplistic ideology you can master, but that's had the most profound impact on my ability to progress through the ranks," he explained. "Just recognize that if you truly care about what you do and do the absolute best at everything you're tasked with, ultimately you'll become among the best, if not the best. It's really that simple."
To sum it up, Redmore will say it has been a complete joy to wake up every morning, put his uniform on and know that he's doing something that others don't either have the ability or the desire to do.
"I will go to my grave with these memories and always look back with the utmost pride and happiness because of my time spent in the Army, and there is nothing more honorable than that to me," he said.
There is a saying that has helped Redmore throughout his career.
"The path of a warrior is lifelong, and achieving success is by simply staying on path," he said. "That is what I try to do and hope I have passed on."
In parting, Redmore said he will remember his time at Fort Drum fondly and he appreciates all the support he has received over the years.
"I want to thank everybody in the (local) communities, Fort Drum proper and the organizations that make up the 10th Mountain Division and the garrison command for all the support they've given me and for all the memories I'll be able to reflect upon for the rest of my life," he said.
"It truly has been a heck of a ride that I will never forget and will always look upon as the best days of my life. That's something that I don't think anything other than just a good old-fashioned 'thank you' could ever do. So I want to thank everyone for that."