Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin reflects on 30-year Army career
December 7, 2011
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin will retire Jan. 19 after more than 30 years of service in the U.S. Army. He is the senior noncommissioned officer for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.
When you joined the Army in 1981, what were your goals and expectations?
"When I joined in 1981, all I wanted to do is to join the service and give back to the nation. I'm an immigrant. I was born and raised in Honduras. I came to the United States at the age of 10. I went to elementary, junior and high school in New York City.
I felt that because I was allowed to come into this nation, I wanted to give something back. That is what I really wanted to truly do. I had no clue that I would end up serving 31 years. I wanted to give back to a grateful nation."
What have been your greatest contributions to the Army?
"I truly feel I've contributed through my leadership over the years. I have planted a seed and raised some great noncommissioned officers and Soldiers that I have led over the years, all the way from squad leader, platoon sergeant, first sergeant, battalion- and brigade-level command sergeants major.
I felt that I have contributed with my leadership to the Army. Many of those Soldiers are now sergeants first class, master sergeants, sergeants major, and command sergeants major that my leadership has contributed to.
Here at RDECOM, I feel that my efforts to operationalize the command over the years to expand our footprint in both battlefield, Iraq and Afghanistan, making sure there was a noncommissioned officer with every one of our STAT (Science and Technology Assistance Team) officers. That was not the case when I first got here. When I first got here, we had a few STAT teams, but no NCOs were deployed. When I first hit the ground at RDECOM, it was requested by an officer in theater. I said absolutely. If you guys are out there, we should be out there.
An NCO can break down doors and communicate with the enlisted, which is the majority. A great contribution that I've done is to operationalize the command. The command has been recognized for that. We've done a lot for the Warfighter over time, and we continue to do so today.
We've deployed the RFAST-C (RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center) to Bagram Air Base, which is RDECOM's capability forward with engineers and all the latest equipment to support the Warfighter. That is a significant contribution."
What have been the biggest challenges you have encountered? How did you overcome those challenges?
"I've had many, many challenges throughout my career. We were coming out of Iraq in 2004, and we were in Kuwait and had turned in all of our equipment. We were ready to come back home. We were told that we were going back into Iraq after our 12-month tour. We served 15 months in Iraq. That's the first time that's been done since World War II.
That was a leadership challenge when you turn in weapons and munitions, and everybody is ready to go home and families are waiting for Soldiers. You have to look everybody in the eye and say, 'We're going to ruck up. We're going to re-train. We're going back in fighting. We're going to take ground.'
That's basically what we did in Iraq, south of Baghdad. That was a great leadership challenge for me."
What is your advice to a young Soldier enlisting in the Army today?
"I would always, as a veteran, recommend the military to any young American. It provides a great opportunity for any young man or woman who wants to challenge themselves. And do something greater than themselves, not just as an individual, but also for the nation and their community."
During your time at RDECOM, what have been the command's greatest contributions to Warfighters?
"This command has contributed a lot to the Warfighter in the last 10 years of combat. Look at armor on vehicles; the introduction of robotics into the battlefield; improving night-vision devices, uniforms, boots, munitions; improvements to aviation platforms. Across the full spectrum of the battlefield, this command has contributed a lot to the Army and the nation."
How can RDECOM continue to have technological impact on Warfighters' missions?
"RDECOM will always be important on the battlefield. As we draw down in Iraq and Afghanistan, we will have covert operations that will take place in those locations. RDECOM is embedded with all of our Special Operations units. We continue to work in all the black operations.
Just because we're pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan does not mean that behind the scenes RDECOM is not engaged. We are engaged with U.S. Army Special Operations Command. We continue to deliver technologies to those organizations.
Those organizations look to RDECOM to deliver the latest technologies so they can continue to do all of those covert operations in both theaters of operation.
As we pull all of our ground forces out of those two theaters of operation, the people who are going to continue the fight are the Special Operations units. RDECOM is without a doubt embedded with Special Operations Command to continue this global posture to fight terrorism."