March 1, 2011 -- SMA Chandler swearing-in remarks
March 3, 2011
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III
Sergeant Major of the Army
March 1, 2011
I will obey my first order that the Chief gave me this morning, which is to be brief. General Casey, thank you very much for your faith in me, and I promise I will not let you down. Secretary, thank you very much for everything you do, I appreciate it. Mrs. Petraeus, thank you for honoring us with your presence. Jeanne and I are very blessed to have you here. General Sullivan, thank you so much for all you do for the Soldiers and their families. Secretary Westphal thank you so much, I appreciate you coming today. General and Mrs. Chiarelli, thank you so much for coming today. The Honorable Hammack, General Dunwoody, Ms. Morrow, the DAS, (Mr.) Hawley, and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. Chief where are you' Thanks Chief, I appreciate it.
There are a lot of other people that I want to thank. For me personally, the most important thing in my life is my family, and they have seen me through many difficult times and challenges, and I could not be here today before you without them. First and foremost is my wife Jeanne, who is without a doubt the rock in our life and who will hit me upside the head with a thank you card at a moment's notice and let me know that I am off-track. I love you with all my heart and thank you. And my children Aaron, Justin and Ashley: thank you so very much for attending. And my mother Justine, who was a schoolteacher and retired and moved to farm in Alabama, and is self-employed and is one of the strongest women I have ever met in my life. I love you Mom, thank you. She raised me, a single-parent, and I was not the best child nor the best son. My uncle and aunt, Uncle Bob and Aunt Sandy. My uncle was a retired Army aviator and served three tours in Vietnam as a pilot. His last tour, if you want to talk about heroism, was in the 617th Field Artillery Brigade, where he flew along the DMZ and let people shoot at him so that artillery fire would be called upon range. Now that's courage. And my Aunt Diane, who is an Army nurse, and the rest of my cousins who are here supporting me today, I am honored.
I also would like to give thank-you's to two individuals who made a tremendous impact in my life. One is Major General (R) Robert Williams and his wife Deb, who was a mentor for me. They are here. He was a huge mentor for me when I was at Fort Knox. Basically when General Tucker left to become the first Warrior Transition Unit Commander, he said "Ray, you're in charge of the Army school. Just tell those folks down there what to do, and if you run into any problems, let me know." I learned what it meant to really have the trust of a very senior officer to do what Non-Commissioned Officers do best, which is to act, and sir, I will thank you and appreciate that for the rest of my life.
And another gentleman who is here also, Command Sergeant Major (R) Sparks, who's been my mentor, been my best friend, other than my wife, who has really served as a guide for me and epitomizes what it means to be a mentor for an individual, in my personal and professional life. Thanks and I appreciate it.
I am humbled. Many of you that are here today I have served with, and I am a product of your leadership. I'm here because you saw faith in me and counseled me and coached me and helped me to develop into being a professional, as part of this professional Army. Each of you has touched my life or another Non-Commissioned Officer's life in some way, which has taken us to this place where our Army is today. We have the best Army that our nation has ever fielded. There is no doubt about that. But our Army is also tired, and we have many more miles to travel. So for all of us, as a family, we need to look out for one another, to wrap our hands around those Soldiers and families who have bore the burden of these men in boots. As the Army's Sergeant Major, I will serve as a scout to conduct reconnaissance for the Chief, and provide you with information that you can turn into intelligence with the Secretary to make informed decisions for our families and Soldiers, so that we can best serve our nation. I will do my best. I ask each and every one of you to support every single Soldier and family who is harms' way, those that are recovering from their wounds, and to look out for and put your arms around those individuals. We can be a very empathic organization and we need some empathy for our folks out there at this time. So Sir, I will do my best. I am honored to serve with you and with you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you so much. Army Strong.
(Standing ovation, applause)