Battalion Bids Farewell to First CSM
February 16, 2012
FORT RILEY, Kan. --After nearly three years of having Command Sgt. Major Tonia Walker as their senior noncommissioned officer, the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, bid her farewell during a change of responsibility ceremony on Fort Riley, February 10.
Standing before a formation comprised of the 'Defiant' companies and the Headquarters Company, 1st HBCT, Walker passed the guidon to Lt. Col. Samuel Calkins, commander, symbolizing her relinquishing her authority to incoming Command Sgt. Maj. Naamon Grimmett.
"When the Devil Brigade transitioned to an HBCT and -- BSTB organized as a battalion, Sgt. Maj. Walker was there, at the beginning," remarked Calkins. "She and the previous commander had the unique and daunting opportunity to mold this battalion into their image of excellence and, as a result, the excellence this battalion has repeatedly demonstrated, both at Ft. Riley and in Iraq, is thanks to Sgt. Maj. Walker."
"When I arrived (to this unit) we had 105 Soldiers on the books with no motto, no unit identification code, virtually no identity," said Walker. "Our first tasks were to organize the battalion… and figure out how we could best support the Devil Brigade and we have come a long way in 31 months."
The 'Defiants' recently returned from its first deployment in support of Operation New Dawn where its Soldiers operated the Mayor Cell, supervised day-to-day operation of Contingency Operating Site Warrior, provided communication support, network and intelligence and conducted route clearance patrols.
"I remember, in the beginning, when some tried to dismiss the need for a special troops battalion because we were still new to the Army," recalled Walker. "But now, everyone realizes how valuable the contributions of this organization are because of each one of you standing in formation."
Looking at the Soldiers before her, Walker said she was proud of them and for them to not allow anyone to minimize their contribution to the fight.
Calkins, in his final statements, accredited Walker's guidance and vision as having carried the battalion along its path of excellence.
He also wished her well during her participation in the Congressional Fellowship Program, saying she will represent 'all of us exceedingly well in that exciting position.'
Walker was recently one of two command sergeants major chosen to represent the Army in the Congressional Fellowship Program and her next assignment will take her to Washington, D.C.