Command sergeant major helps lead division through transition period
November 23, 2011
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- The 10th Mountain Division's (LI) acting command sergeant major took time Thursday to reflect on his temporary position while also sharing several key messages with the post community.
Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin D. Sharkey, Fort Drum NCO Academy commandant, recently relocated to Hays Hall to bridge the gap between Command Sgt. Maj. Chris-topher Greca, the division's former command sergeant major, and Command Sgt. Maj. Rick Merritt, who will assume responsibility early next year.
"The only major change is the level of responsibility increases and the number of people that you touch increases," Sharkey said of his interim position. "But your duties and responsibilities as a noncommissioned officer, from (sergeant) to command sergeant major, are pretty much the same."
Although Merritt was at Fort Drum during the division change of responsibility ceremony Nov. 4, he is officially still serving as the 75th Ranger Regiment senior enlisted adviser.
Sharkey took time during the brief interview to remind division Soldiers to "live" the Army values, of which "personal courage" is paramount to him. He also encouraged personnel to live by the
Soldier's Creed, and he emphasized "I will never quit" as the part of the Warrior Ethos that means the most to him.
"I will never quit as their division command sergeant major and I don't expect them to quit -- not on themselves, not on their teammates and not on this organization," said Sharkey, who will return to his post at the academy once Merritt arrives.
Soldiers should demonstrate three key traits for the few months that Sharkey serves as their command sergeant major. He said those three simple things have the power to make their time at Fort Drum and in the Army a professionally and personally rewarding experience.
"They are the same three simple things that I live by personally every single day," he said. "Be disciplined; be an expert; and be a team player.
"My definition of being disciplined is doing the right thing when nobody's watching you," Sharkey said. "The other thing is strive to be the best at your job every single day.
"The third thing is to be a team player, regardless of what size element you are in," he added. "It's OK to have pride in your organization as a fire team, squad, platoon, company or battalion. But at the end of the day, we as an organization are only successful as a team."
Sharkey took over at the NCO Academy in September of last year, after three years as the Fort Polk garrison command sergeant major.
He said the wintry weather of the North Country made moving here from Louisiana a "culture shock."
"To be perfectly honest, it was something that I was truly afraid of," he said. "I had heard all of the stories about the North Country weather in the wintertime."
But after going through his first winter here -- and a particularly tough one, too -- Sharkey said he was pleasantly surprised.
"The local municipalities out there do a fantastic job keeping the roads clear and safe," he said. "I even tried snowshoeing and cross-country skiing for the first time -- it was fantastic.
"I love the area," the command sergeant major continued. "I love the people. They are warm, loving and open. Matter of fact … (because) we are in a little rural part of New York, most people in the area know and understand the sacrifices that we as Soldiers make, and they appreciate the Soldiers and their Families.
"They are very patriotic people up here," he added. "They fly the American flag; they say the Pledge of Allegiance; they're not afraid to pray in public. I tell (Soldiers and Families), 'Go out, and experience the culture and the people of northern New York; I think you will find them very warm and welcoming. Go out and experience the winter. Don't be afraid. Just do it safely.'"
Sharkey finished his remarks by stressing the importance of Families.
"As Soldiers, whether you're married or your not, you have somebody who loves you," he said. "Every day, appreciate those who love you. They truly make our Army the strength of our nation.
"The strength of our Families is the strength of our Army," he said. "Without them, we could not do what we do every single day. I always say that the Noncommissioned Officer Corps is considered the backbone of the Army -- I believe all of our Families are the marrow that makes up that backbone, because without their support, we could not do what we do.
"To those who are deployed, know that your loved ones and (we who) remain back here will always keep you in our thoughts and our prayers throughout this holiday season," he added. "And to you Families -- this is a great time of the season to stop and reflect on what's truly important in our lives and what we can be thankful for. As American citizens, we have everything to be thankful for."