'Red Dragons' bid farewell to CSM SotoBonilla
February 28, 2012
FORT HOOD, Texas--With a cold and blustery wind passing through their ranks, more than 200 "Red Dragon" Soldiers stood in formation to say farewell to their command sergeant major.
The 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, conducted a Change-of-Responsibility Ceremony on Fort Hood Feb. 10.
Command Sgt. Maj. Francisco Montalvoortiz replaced Command Sgt. Maj. Carlos SotoBonilla as the Red Dragons' Command Sergeant Major.
SotoBonilla arrived for his second tour to Fort Hood in June 2008, and was assigned to the 3rd Bn., 82nd FA Regt. He helped lead the Red Dragon Soldiers for approximately four years, proudly watching each of them, past and present, earn accomplishments and progress in their careers.
"This has been the best team I have had an opportunity to work with," said SotoBonilla. "When I first began with the Red Dragons I could sense pride throughout the unit."
SotoBonilla continued to help instill this pride into his Soldiers as he made caring for and leading them his number one priority.
"I went through combat with these Soldiers. I saw them grow and become professionals," he added.
Being part of the Soldiers lives and working at their level is what he did best, said Lt. Col. Nate Cook, commander of 3rd Bn., 82nd FA Regt. "We are better Soldiers because of him (SotoBonilla)."
Cook said SotoBonilla has been the best command sergeant major he's worked with and having worked with him for almost 2 years has been a real privilege. "SotoBonilla was the right leader at the right time."
SotoBonilla was a "teacher, mentor and friend" who got to know his Soldiers not only in garrison but also on the battlefield, explained Cook.
"He worked with his Soldiers during hundreds of missions in Iraq, most of the time as a member of the squad," he stated. "SotoBonilla's Iraqi counterparts had volumes to speak on his dedication to his Soldiers, the mission and on his accomplishments during his deployment."
As for SotoBonilla's feelings towards leaving, he said it's "bittersweet." His mixed feelings come from his years of investing time and experience and watching as his Soldiers grow.
He is also appreciative to Cook for putting trust in him to help lead the Red Dragon Soldiers.
As he departs, SotoBonilla leaves these words to the Red Dragons:
"Continue to give 100 percent. Even when stress sets in, never give up and continue to do your best," he said. "Never forget the sacrifice you give everyday."
SotoBonilla is scheduled to be the next command sergeant major for the 75th Fires Brigade, Fort Sill, Okla.