Maj. Gen. Kevin R. Wendel, commanding general for First Army Division East, passes the noncommissioned officer sword to the incoming command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis E. Defreese, on Friday morning at McGlachlin Parade Field.

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (Sept. 27, 2012) -- 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 responsibility of Division East, to Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis E. Defreese.

Maj. Gen. Kevin R. Wendel, commanding general of First Army Division East, presided over the ceremony Friday on McGlachlin Parade Field.

"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," he said.

Representatives of Division East's eight brigades with their unit colors, led by their respective command sergeants major, assembled on the field for the ceremony. Bugle calls replaced verbal commands.

Music was provided by members of the 392nd Army Band at Fort Lee, Va.

Wendel welcomed Defreese to the team and said he looks forward to serving with him.

"Command Sergeant Major Defreese brings us a wealth of knowledge and experience gained from leadership at every NCO level and multiple combat tours," he said. "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, Defreese said he was grateful for the opportunity.

"I want to thank Major General Wendel for his confidence in me," he said. "I am extremely excited about working with and serving the Soldiers of this dynamic and important organization. ... To the leaders and Soldiers on the field, you look great. "

In his new assignment, Rodriguez will be command sergeant major for the Office of the Security Cooperation - Iraq.

"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," Rodriguez said.

"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."

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 intergovernmental departments to and from deployments around the world.

During his speech, 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.

"Thank you for a job well done," Wendel said. "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 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 Sergeant Major Rodriguez for his mentorship, leadership and training he has provided to their NCO corps."

Wendel said 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.

"Lieutenant General 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," he said. "I cannot think of a better senior NCO to lead our efforts in Iraq."

In his remarks, Rodriguez spoke of Division East's accomplishments during his tenure.

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

Speaking to Defreese, Rodriguez urged him to continue to build esprit de corps

"Dennis, as you take the reins as the Division Command Sergeant Major, it is incumbent that you continue to build esprit 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," Rodriguez said. "And in all things, train for combat!"

Page last updated Thu September 27th, 2012 at 00:00