• Command Sgt. Maj. Edwin Rodriguez passes the NCO sword to Maj. Gen. Kevin R. Wendel, First Army Division East Commanding General, signifying the change of responsibility from him to Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis E. Defreese, at Fort George G. Meade, Md., on Sept. 21, 2012. The tradition of the sword ritual signifies the transition of changing the senior enlisted advisor of the Division.

    Command Sgt. Maj. Edwin Rodriguez passes the...

    Command Sgt. Maj. Edwin Rodriguez passes the NCO sword to Maj. Gen. Kevin R. Wendel, First Army Division East Commanding General, signifying the change of responsibility from him to Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis E. Defreese, at Fort George G. Meade, Md., on...

  • In a time honored tradition, First Army Division East Commanding General, Maj. General Kevin R. Wendel,  passes the noncommissioned officer sword to the incoming Division Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis E. Defreese, on Sept. 21, 2012, at Fort George G. Meade, Md

    In a time honored tradition, First Army...

    In a time honored tradition, First Army Division East Commanding General, Maj. General Kevin R. Wendel, passes the noncommissioned officer sword to the incoming Division Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis E. Defreese, on Sept. 21, 2012...

  • Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis E. Defreese, the new First Army Division East command sergeant major, addresses his troops for the first time at the Change of Responsibility, Fort George G. Meade, Md., on Sept. 21, 2012.

    Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis E. Defreese, the new...

    Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis E. Defreese, the new First Army Division East command sergeant major, addresses his troops for the first time at the Change of Responsibility, Fort George G. Meade, Md., on Sept. 21, 2012.

  • Sgt. Maj. Michael J. Kelsen, the Commander of Troops for the Change of Responsibility between Command Sgt. Maj. Edwin Rodriguez and Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis E. Defreese, presents the command to Maj. Gen. Kevin R. Wendel, the First Army Division East Commanding General, on Sept. 21, 2012, at Fort George G. Meade, Md.

    Sgt. Maj. Michael J. Kelsen, the Commander of...

    Sgt. Maj. Michael J. Kelsen, the Commander of Troops for the Change of Responsibility between Command Sgt. Maj. Edwin Rodriguez and Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis E. Defreese, presents the command to Maj. Gen. Kevin R. Wendel, the First Army Division East...

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, MD., -- After 27 months as the senior enlisted advisor of First Army Division East, Command Sgt. Maj. Edwin Rodriguez passed the Noncommissioned Officer Sword, signifying the transfer of the responsibility of the Division, to the new Division command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis E. Defreese.

The ceremony took place on a sunny Friday morning, September 21, on the Fort Meade parade field, next to the First Army Division East Headquarters, here. Members of the 392nd Army Band, Fort Lee, Va., provided music for the ceremony.

Representatives of the Divisions' eight brigades with their unit colors, led by their respective command sergeants majors, assembled on the field for the ceremony. Bugle calls replaced verbal commands throughout the ceremony.

"It is an honor for me to preside over one of the most important ceremonies we execute in the Army -- the Change of Responsibility Ceremony for senior enlisted leaders," said Wendel. "To Command Sgt. Maj. Rodriguez -- thank you for a job well done. You have been involved in every major mission in Division East, made an incredible difference across our force and most importantly, ensured those deploying were manned, equipped, trained and ready."

Wendel estimated Rodriguez spent more than 200 days a year traveling to visit Soldiers across the United States, ensuring tasks and training were completed on time and on target. He also credited Rodriguez with taking care of more than 20,000 Soldiers each year as they prepared to deploy to locations around the world.

"He ensured every Soldier returning from the fight was properly and professionally transitioned back to Reserve status," Wendel said. "Throughout it all, he has ensured adherence to standards and professionalism amongst our trainers and the units we have worked with. Too numerous to mention, but dozens of U. S. Army Reserve and National Guard leaders have personally thanked me for the efforts of Command Sgt. Maj. Rodriguez for his mentorship, leadership and training he has provided to their NCO corps."

"Lt. Gen. Caslen needs the best -- the consummate senior mentor, leader and trainer; who leads by example and exemplifies the Army values and our Profession of Arms…. I cannot think of a better senior NCO to lead our efforts in Iraq," Wendel said, explaining why he wasn't surprised Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., selected Rodriguez as his next command sergeant major for the Office of the Security Cooperation -- Iraq.

Wendel also welcomed Defreese to the team and said he looked forward to serving with him. "Command Sgt. Maj. Defreese brings us a wealth of knowledge and experience, gained from leadership at every NCO level and multiple combat tours. I would like to thank the Sergeant Major of the Army for sending us one of the very best, handpicked to lead at the Division level."

In his remarks, Rodriguez spoke of the Divisions accomplishments during his tenure.

"It was fast and furious, but we accomplished every mission to the utmost of our ability. I can't help but feel proud of everything we accomplished together. Your efforts and support have made my job easy," Rodriguez said to the Soldiers, civilians, NCOs, and officers of the Division.

"During my tenure here, I have tried to instill the essential characteristics of the Army profession: trust --both within the ranks and with the American public -- competence, commitment, training and experience. … In fact, we take that trust one step further as we are entrusted with the training and preparation of Reserve Component Soldiers for deployments around the world. This is a sacred trust we must never violate," Rodriguez said.

"Dennis, as you take the resigns as the Division Command Sergeant Major, it is incumbent that you continue to build espirit de corps across the Division East footprint by creating a sense of belonging that will inspire excellence and the fortitude to never quit among our Soldiers…. And in all things, train for combat!" Rodriguez concluded.

"I want to thank Maj. Gen. Wendel for his confidence in me. I am extremely excited about working with and serving the Soldiers of this dynamic and important organization," said Defreese. "To the leaders and Soldiers on the field: you look great. … Every time we do a ceremony like this, we help keep alive the customs and traditions of the Army so that our young leaders see what right looks like for the future."

First Army Division East, comprised of eight brigades located throughout the eastern United States, mobilizes, trains, validates, deploys and demobilizes Reserve Component Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen along with selected members of the interagency and inter-governmental departments to and from deployments around the world.

Page last updated Fri September 21st, 2012 at 00:00