Operation Tribute to Freedom

OTF Soldier Story for March 28, 2011 - Command Sgt. Maj. James Richardson Sr. and Pvt. James Richardson Jr.

Command Sergeant Major James Richardson Sr.

Name: Command Sgt. Maj. James Richardson Sr.
Current Unit: 1st Squadron, 221st Armored Cavalry
Current Position: Command Sergeant Major
Component: Nevada National Guard
Current Location: Las Vegas
Hometown: Boulder City, Nev.
Years of Service: 29

Private James Richardson Jr.

Name: Pvt. James Richardson Jr.
Current Unit: 1st Squadron, 221st Armored Cavalry
Current Position: Information Technology Specialist
Component: Nevada National Guard
Current Location: Las Vegas
Hometown: Las Vegas
Years of Service: 3 months

There is nothing more important to Command Sgt. Maj. James Richardson Sr. than family. But Richardson’s definition of family doesn’t end at his wife and seven children—he views the Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 221st Armored Cavalry as his family too.

“I’m kind of the ‘dad’ of the organization,” he said. “As a father of seven, it’s a familiar role for me. I have Soldiers that are the same age as my kids. They have the same kinds of issues, but compounded with a military obligation.”

During the Nevada National Guard’s deployment to Afghanistan last year, the squadron provided security force platoons for provincial reconstruction teams across the country. Additionally, they were the only National Guard unit assigned as battlespace owners, adding significant responsibility to their mission yet allowing the Guardsmen to draw on their civilian experience.

“I think the battlespace responsibility is a tribute to all the other responsibilities we had to deal with besides the security force piece,” he said. “That is where the diversity of our Soldiers, who are policeman, fireman, civil engineers, and many others, came in to be our advantage over the active component.”

Richardson oversaw Soldier welfare and training operations for the squadron, making it his personal mission to ensure that the needs of his Soldiers were met and that the policies and standards of the military were upheld in all aspects of Soldier conduct, both on and off duty.

As a result of his leadership and meritorious service throughout the deployment, Richardson was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. Although he was honored to receive the medal, he considers bringing all 752 Soldiers home safely to be his real measure of success.

Throughout his career in the Nevada National Guard and especially during his recent deployment overseas, Richardson said he always felt the full support of his family. Their support allowed him to focus on the battlefield, not the homefront.

“I’m not a softy, but I’m not a fire-breathing, nail-eating sergeant major either,” he said. “My job and my main priority is Soldier care along with family care because families support the Soldiers. Personally, I couldn’t be who I am as a man without my family.”

When Richardson enlisted in the Army nearly three decades ago, he did not plan to become a career Soldier, but felt a strong sense of belonging in the Army. Two years later he transitioned from active duty to the Nevada National Guard, where he has served for the past 27 years.

“I’ve watched the National Guard evolve as an organization,” he said. “Guardsmen were once thought of as ‘weekend warriors,’ but now the Guard is really valued as an operational force. Overseas, Guardsmen bring all kinds of experience that makes us strong – we have attorneys, engineers, policemen, cooks – in addition to Army experience.”

Having been a parent for nearly as long as he’s served in uniform, Richardson’s duties as a father often influenced his actions as a Soldier and as a role model. His military career inspired his eldest son, James Jr. to join the Nevada National Guard as well.

“I definitely encouraged James to join. The National Guard is an amazing organization and being a part of something bigger than you is really important,” said the father. “But at the individual level, it’s also very personal. Relatively speaking, only a few people take the opportunity to serve their country.”

After watching his parent serve in uniform for decades, Pvt. James Richardson Jr. knew he wanted to follow in his father’s boot steps.

“Seeing my father serve helped me to realize that the Army Guard is a very good thing to be in and to be around,” said the younger Richardson. “I’ve grown to love the military life and I’ve always wanted to wear the uniform of the Army Guard.”

Pvt. Richardson is scheduled to report to basic training next month.

Originally from Boulder City, Nev., Command Sgt. Maj. Richardson and his family reside in the Las Vegas area. Although he is eligible to retire, the Noncommissioned Officer is not in a rush to relinquish his duties anytime soon.

“I really enjoy what I do and I’m not finished,” he said. “I feel that I still have a lot to offer to the Guard and to the state of Nevada.”

Telling the Army Story: Community Relations

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