Last enlisted Army draftee says farewell
August 26, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. --August 26, 2011-- The mood was bitter sweet at the U.S. Army Materiel Command during a change of responsibility ceremony and farewell to a relic in Army history.
Jeffrey J. Mellinger, AMC's outgoing command sergeant major, turned over responsibility to Command Sergeant Major Ronald T. Riling, incoming command sergeant major.
Mellinger's final assignment as AMC's command sergeant major is culminated his nearly 40 year career, which began in 1972 during the Vietnam War. He is the last continuously serving draftee on active duty.
Although he will officially retire in October, today he says farewell for the last time as AMC's command sergeant major.
"I've seen our Army go from lacking standards and discipline to being the most highly competent and disciplined force able to deliver food and blankets and take three steps and be able to deliver overwhelming and accurate fire power the next. We are a more technically and tactically competent workforce now than ever before," Mellinger said. "We surely have the greatest Army ever fielded. Our men and women in uniform are better trained, better armed, and better protected than ever before, and Army Materiel Command has had a great hand in that change."
Passion is just one of the words General Ann E. Dunwoody, AMC Commanding General, used to describe Mellinger from his four year assignment to AMC.
"His passion for our Soldier's welfare comes through in every action and every word. He believes in the value of every individual and that every individual in our diverse Army has something to contribute," Dunwoody said.
"He's been my trusted advisor and sounding board in a time of war, and I'm proud to call him my comrade, and together we have fought the hard fight to support our men and women on the battlefield," Dunwoody said. "Sergeant Major you represent everything a noncommissioned officer should ever aspire to be, and it's been an honor for me to share this final chapter of your service."
Despite Mellinger's laundry list of assignments, recognition and accolades, humility is the emotion he wore while addressing the AMC family.
"You might have picked up that my service is not about me nor should it be. It's all about the Soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors, civilians and family members that I've been so privileged to serve so long, and care for, or lead," Mellinger said.
From the list of people he thanked, it was clear that Mellinger's journey was not made alone.
The packed auditorium was also an indication of the noncommissioned officers, officers, general officers and civilians he impacted during his nearly four decade career.
"It's with great sadness that I leave this team, for you are truly a team with the warfighters ever present in your minds, deeds, and words. Will Rogers said we can't all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by, now it's my time to go sit on the curb and clap," Mellinger said.
With Mellinger's exit, comes a new command sergeant major, Riling.
"As we all know transition in a time of war can be tough, but that's why we are so fortunate to have Command Sergeant Major Riling in the senior ranks today," Dunwoody said. "He knows what it is like to lead a global command at war. He has the judgment, the wisdom the senior leaders rely on, and he has the experience that Soldiers respect."
"He comes to us after serving as the Command Sergeant Major for Forces Command, the largest command in the Army, where he was responsible for 700,000 Soldiers," she said.
Mellinger also attested to the fact that Riling was more than capable to be responsible for AMC's more than 70,000 military and civilians working around the world.
"I can tell you Ron Riling is more than qualified to be the 14th Army Materiel Command Sergeant Major. He is a decorated combat veteran, has experience in combat from division to Forces Command, and has the heart and energy to continue to improve our AMC fighting position." Mellinger said.
Riling closed the ceremony with a tribute to Mellinger.
"To Command Sergeant Major Mellinger and Kim, Linda and I personally want to thank you for your service, your personal sacrifice, and your dedication to the Army. We also want to thank you for your mentorship and most of all your friendship," said Riling. "You will always be part of the AMC team," Riling said.