Command Sergeant Major David Puig

Saying goodbye is never easy. But saying goodbye to JMC's Command Sergeant Major David Puig as he leaves for his next tour of duty will be especially difficult. Puig has become a fixture during his two and a half years of service to JMC.

Since 1990, Puig worked in explosive ordnance disposal and held many leadership positions.

"I knew about the storage and destruction of ammo, but I didn't have a clue about the industrial side of ammo, about production, processes, locations," Puig said. "And nothing prepared me for leading a purely civilian organization."

As Puig was to discover, JMC manages the Army's ammunition plants and depots. Its installations produce, store, issue and demilitarize conventional ammunition for all U.S. military services, U.S. agencies and allied nations.

Puig related that when he came to JMC in August of 2009, then-commander and now Maj. Gen. Larry Wyche told him he would give him six months to understand the organization, and Puig told him "no problem." But, within a month, Puig realized that six months would not be enough.

So Puig dug in to learn all he could about the ammunition industrial base and acquisitions. And, he said, he had to learn patience. He realized that working with civilians greatly differs from commanding Soldiers. Puig had to learn to patiently motivate civilians to accomplish his ends.

"Command Sgt. Maj. Puig brought invaluable wartime ammunition experience to JMC. Later, he was able to leverage that experience and his new knowledge of JMC missions and products to keep Soldiers and senior Non-Commissioned Officers around the world informed on JMC's role in supporting them," said Col. Arnold P. Montgomery, Chief of Staff at JMC.

Traditionally, a command sergeant major is the primary advisor to the commander for enlisted matters. Since JMC has so few enlisted Soldiers, Puig focused on the workforce. He talked to employees at all levels at JMC's installations, and advised both Wyche and JMC's current commander, Brig. Gen. Gustave F. Perna, of employee concerns and needs. Puig guided training for the workforce and, as an advocate for safety he verified safety preparations and readiness procedures at installations.

While at JMC, Puig tackled other hefty assignments, too.

Puig served as JMC's senior trainer for two Golden Cargo exercises. Golden Cargo is a two-week national, functional training exercise that provides annual real-world training for more than 1,500 active-duty, Reserve, and National Guard personnel as they move ammunition from one installation to another for storage, shipment or demilitarization. In 2011, GC's 20th anniversary, seven JMC installations participated in relocating 18,000 short tons of ammunition.

Puig said he was "proud as hell to be part of Golden Cargo." In 2011, he visited every site and met virtually all of the soldiers involved. Puig enjoyed interacting with young service members and hearing their stories of what challenges they overcame and what they learned from GC.

"Command Sgt. Maj. Puig has a long service in supporting our nation's warfighters and Golden Cargo is just another example where this non-commissioned officer led from the front," said Lt. Col. William C. Johnson, Jr., Commander at Hawthorne Army Depot. "Command Sgt. Maj. Puig's leadership in the truck lot here was instrumental in walking the Soldiers through the paperwork and the process of delivering their cargo to the dock."

Col. Brian Rogers, Commander at Blue Grass Army Depot also had high praise for Puig. "Command Sgt. Maj. Puig is a model of senior non-commissioned officer involvement during Golden Cargo. He provided sound guidance and a strong leadership presence at the key times and locations," said Rogers.

Wyche tasked Puig to learn all about the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round, which represents the most significant performance leap in small-arms ammunition in decades, and is produced at JMC's Lake City Army Ammunition Plant. As an advocate for the new round, Puig became the voice of JMC to the Army.

Puig shared that his most challenging task was connecting JMC's workforce and the nation's service members.

Puig promoted the Warfighter Ammo Information Program to tie JMC with the Program Executive Office-Ammunition to talk to service members about ammo. He also supported Soldiers' visits to JMC installations so that soldiers could see how their ammo is made and to share comments and feedback with the people who produce their ammunition.

On the other side of the coin, in order to show JMC employees how their efforts affect Soldiers, Puig was instrumental in establishing an ammunition display room at JMC headquarters. Now, as part of new employee orientations and Defense Ammunition Center classes, JMC employees view a wide variety of ammunition, learn how Soldiers use it, and appreciate their own role in its production.

"Command Sgt. Maj. Puig contributed greatly to get the command message out through his display room tours. His vast knowledge of ammunition, with a common-sense approach on explaining its function, will be missed," said Darryl Howlett, a public affairs specialist at JMC.

One accomplishment at JMC that Puig is most proud of was the opportunity to travel and talk to Soldiers about ammo issues. He is proud of the fact that he can't recall a single instance when soldiers complained of an ammunition shortage. In fact, ammo was there for them even before they needed it or asked for it, he said.

Readily available ammo reflects another facet of JMC that Puig is proud of: its workforce.

"I am humbled by the dedication of the civilian workforce," Puig said. "JMC is a command of quiet professionals, unsung heroes that put the teeth in the tiger."

Puig's next assignment will be as command sergeant major of the 20th Support Command, the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosives or CBRNE. CBRNE operations detect, identify, assess, render-safe, dismantle, transfer and dispose of unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devices and other CBRNE hazards.

"Working for JMC has been an outstanding opportunity for me," said Puig. "My new job is possible only because of what I learned at this command. I am better prepared to work with civilians and I have experts here to consult when ammo issues arise at CBRNE."

So how will those at JMC say goodbye to their command sergeant major? They will simply say, "Best wishes…so long… thank you, sir."

Page last updated Tue January 17th, 2012 at 00:00