Martinez turns over responsibility as Presidio's top NCO
March 8, 2013
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- "Excuse me, but you're not on the list."
The words nobody wants to hear at their own ceremony -- wedding, retirement or change of responsibility -- you name it, we don't want to hear it.
Yet, there was Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Olga B. Martinez driving two colonels and her replacement to the ceremony until she was stopped at the security checkpoint. When she identified herself, she was told by the security person … wait for it, yep, you guessed it: "You're not on the list."
Undeterred, as is her normal working attitude, Martinez said it was her ceremony and she was driving on. And she did.
The rest of the Feb. 28 event at Soldier Field went off with much less drama, almost like clockwork you could say. Martinez and her replacement, Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Andrew J. Wynn, passed the NCO sword, signifying the passing of responsibility from one to the other.
Spec. Constance Mack, the winner of the 2012 Rising Star competition, sang the National Anthem to kick off the ceremony and, then, the Army song to finish it.
Col. Joel J. Clark, garrison commander, strode to the lectern and poured out an exhaustive list of accomplishments and functions that Martinez had been responsible for in her role as his top counselor. He called sergeants major the conscience of the greatest Army in history and said that Martinez had fulfilled that role for him every step of the way.
He said that her greatest attribute was her strong work ethic, and that it would serve her well wherever her next challenge lay. And then he turned the microphone over to her.
As Martinez talked from the lectern, she thanked Clark; Col. Darcy A. Brewer, her former boss; Pamela von Ness, deputy to the garrison commander; and welcomed Wynn to the post, telling him he was inheriting a group that will exceed his expectations.
Then she thanked a very extensive list of community partners she had worked with since her arrival in 2008: the Retired E-9 Association and its donations to local service members, the Thrift Shop Scholarship fund to military dependents, the Military Order of the Purple Heart and their Thanksgiving baskets, on and on.
But what really happened was members from each of those organizations lined up after the ceremony to thank Martinez for volunteering her time and energy to their causes. They formed a thank-you line that lasted for more than 20 minutes after the ceremony and included mayors, commanders, senior enlisted leaders -- active and retired, non-profit organizers, garrison employees, and many others.
Charles Darwin said, "A man's friendships are one of the best measures of his worth." If that is the case, then Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Olga B. Martinez has forged friendships in Monterey that are beyond measure.
And, as Clark said, she has friends here who will be here if she ever needs them -- which is better than being on any list.