Col. David Haight, right, the Infantry School commandant, hands the organization's espontoon to Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Guden during Friday's change of responsibility ceremony at Marshall Auditorium. In the background is Command Sgt. Maj. Steven McClaflin, who retired after the changeover.

FORT BENNING, Ga. - The Infantry School has a new top enlisted Soldier out in front.

Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Guden took over the position during a change of responsibility ceremony Friday at Marshall Auditorium in McGinnis-Wickam Hall. He replaces Command Sgt. Maj. Steven McClaflin, who retired after more than 27 years on active duty.

"These are two exceptional command sergeants major," said Col. David Haight, the Infantry School commandant. "As always, today's ceremony is somewhat bittersweet -- bitter because we're saying farewell to a superb Army leader who's dedicated his life, literally his life, to selfless service; sweet because we're welcoming another great leader and his Family. … He's a leader who's eager to make a difference in the lives of Infantry Soldiers, the Army, its Families and our civilians."

Guden, who joined the Army in July 1987, had been command sergeant major of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, at Fort Bragg, N.C. A veteran of Desert Shield and Storm, he's deployed four times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan.

"(Guden) brings a wealth of operational experience that will yield big dividends for the Infantry School and Maneuver Center of Excellence," Haight said. "His operational insight is exactly what's needed as we capture more than a decade of lessons learned … and focus on combined-arms training. He'll continue Command Sergeant Major McClaflin's momentum as we continue to produce the very best warriors in the world and prepare for the complex needs of future combat environments."

Guden said he's trained and attended schools here many times but never been assigned to Fort Benning on a permanent basis.

"It's truly an honor to have been selected, and I'm very grateful for the privilege," he told the audience. "I know I'm following in the footsteps of some very remarkable command sergeants major who have held this position. … I'd like to thank them for their continued mentorship and support."

McClaflin, meanwhile, became the organization's 29th command sergeant major in February 2010. More than 40,000 Infantrymen are trained at Fort Benning every year.

Haight, whose welcome ceremony took place earlier this month, said he regrets not getting a chance to serve longer next to McClaflin. The commandant called him an "experienced and noble" warrior.

"His contributions to the Army and Infantry School and his direct impact to the thousands of Soldiers who have trained here are profound," Haight said.

McClaflin, who enlisted in January 1985, recalled showing up on Sand Hill for Infantry one station unit training with the "clothes on my back, a toothbrush in my back pocket and the $5 my grandmother had given me when I left that she probably couldn't afford to give up."

"One thing's for sure, you can't do this job by yourself. I had a very large support team," he said. "Little did I know some 27-and-a-half years ago that I would remain in the Army for this long. I owe my success to many of you. … You taught me that the Army is about people, not things.

"My hero growing up was the all-American Soldier. … I appreciate what you do for our Army and the nation. In the end, the reason we all do what we do is so others don't have to. I stood on the shoulders of giants, and I'm honored to have served among you."

McClaflin plans to remain in the Columbus area with his Family.

Page last updated Thu August 16th, 2012 at 13:45