Sergeant Major of the Army visits Army North, Fort Sam Houston
July 21, 2011
- Sergeant Major the Army
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas " Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler III and his wife, Jeanne, visited service members, Wounded Warriors and new recruits July 8-9 at Fort Sam Houston and U.S. Army North.
Chandler, who was sworn in March 1 as the 14th Sergeant Major of the Army, traveled to Fort Sam Houston to hear from service members and their Families directly.
Chandler and his wife began the two-day visit with stops at Brooke Army Medical Center and the Center for the Intrepid, a rehabilitation, education and research facility, .
“It's important to understand the issues Soldiers bring to the table so we may use it to better our policies, procedures and equipment,” Chandler said. “One direct impact Soldiers made was the feedback we got to change the standard garrison head gear back to patrol caps.”
Pfc. Keenan Almeida, a wounded Soldier from Niles, Mich., was one of the Soldiers that Chandler and his wife visited at BAMC. Almeida was burned during a rocket attack in Iraq.
“It just made me feel better inside knowing he took the time to talk to us individually,” said Almeida. “It really does improve the morale of Soldiers that are healing when they see the commitment of top-level leadership.”
Afterwards, he traveled to Army North to visit Lt. Gen. Guy Swan III, commanding general, U.S. Army North and Fort Sam Houston, and to walk through the historic Army North Quadrangle and to meet service members.
The Army’s top enlisted leader took time to talk with Soldiers in Army North’s Combined Operations and Intelligence Center in the Quadrangle. Personnel in the COIC monitor threats and ongoing civil support operations around North America 24-hours a day.
“It was great to see the Army’s highest enlisted leader recognize the noncommissioned officers in the COIC,” said Sgt. 1st Class Peter Villa, operations NCO, Army North. Villa was one of several NCOs presented challenge coins for excellence by the Sergeant Major of the Army.
Next, Chandler visited the Military Entrance Processing Station at Fort Sam Houston, Chandler, where he presented coins to new recruits and visited with MEPS personnel.
“It's my honor to be in the presence of you young Soldiers, who have selflessly joined our ranks in a time of war, after September 11th, knowing there is a good chance that you could fight our nation's wars,” he said to the recruits.
He then visited the Caisson section Soldiers that perform military funerals at Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Fort Sam Houston Army Support Activity, and was shown the large French draft horses in the Caisson stables. The horses, all of the breed known as “Percheron,” pull the Caisson in funeral ceremonies and are named after previous Sergeants Major of the Army.
When he asked if they had a horse named after retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston, he was told that the horse had to be replaced. Chandler suggested also naming the new, replacement horse after Preston.
Afterwards, Chandler met with command sergeants major from around Fort Sam Houston in the Texas Room at the Quadrangle for a senior enlisted leadership meeting.
The same day, his wife Jeanne toured and visited with representatives from military programs throughout Fort Sam Houston, to include Army Community Service and Family Advocacy, and met with individuals from various Family Readiness Groups to discuss hot topics such as day care, health care, and job and educational opportunities for spouses.
That evening, Chandler and his wife went to the commanding general’s community leaders’ social at the Preston House. Attending the social were various community and military leaders from San Antonio.
The next morning, Chandler and his wife cooked breakfast for Wounded Warriors at the Warrior and Family Support Center. Chandler made omelets, one of his favorite breakfasts, for Soldiers.
“I just had a young man come up to me and say that he couldn’t believe the SMA was here,” said Judith Markelz, program manager, WFSC, during the breakfast. “The young man said to me, ‘Now he has validated what I did.’”
This was the second trip to BAMC and the WFSC for Chandler, who first visited April 22.