FORT HOOD, Texas - "Maj. Gen. and Mrs. Bolger, distinguished guests, and friends of the First Team and of Greywolf Brigade," said Spokane, Wash. native Col. Gary Volesky, commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "Thank you for attending our ceremony."
Volesky stood behind a podium before a formation of attentive Soldiers representing the brigade.
"Today the transition of the Brigade's senior level leadership is complete with the arrival of my Ranger buddy, Command Sgt. Maj. James Pippin," said Volesky.
A new leaf was turned in the evolution of the 3rd BCT when Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Boon, of the 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, from San Antonio, Texas performed the passing of the Greywolf colors to Pippin on the brigade's field here during a change of responsibility ceremony June 16.
"I have been fortunate to know Command Sgt. Maj. Pippin for almost my entire career," said Volesky. "From serving together in the 2nd Ranger Battalion in the 80's, to serving together in the 3rd Ranger Battalion in the 90's, and now serving together today at 1st Cav., I have been able to see Command Sgt. Maj. Pippin grow into the outstanding noncommissioned officer he has become," he said.
"I can tell you from experience that there is no one better prepared to serve as the senior NCO of the Brigade, and I couldn't be more excited in the future of our unit," Volesky said. "Command Sgt. Maj. Pippin has excelled in combat, and while this is important, it is not this experience that is the most critical trait he brings to the Brigade."
"His commitment, determination, loyalty, sound judgment, and his laser focus in improving everyone around him will make the most significant impact in our unit," he said. "I look forward to writing another chapter with you in the history of our Brigade."
The passing of the unit's Colors not only represents the heritage and history of the unit, but also stands for the unity and loyalty of its Soldiers. Boon passed the colors to Volesky who then passed the Colors and responsibility to Pippin.
The time honored process was complete when Pippin returned the colors to Volesky, charging him with maintaining the symbol of responsibility.
Pippin, from Archer City, Texas graduated from the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy in May 2008 and has been the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment's Battalion Command Sergeant Major until now.
Many of Pippin's friends and family were in attendance, taking pictures and stretching to see over the heads of the people in front of them. Pippin made his way to the podium with a strong, comfortable stride. With his hearty native Texan accent he introduced his parents and a local 1st Cav. veteran.
"I'm extremely proud of taking this Brigade Combat Team alongside of Col. Volesky," he said. "We're going to focus on the basics, things like basic marksmanship, traumatic first aid, physical training, small unit battle drills and crew drills, and maintenance of our equipment."
"If we focus on those five things, and we're self-disciplined; which starts here and now, we will kick their butts when we get over there," said Pippin. "We have one mission when we get over there. The sidebar is that we help the Iraqi people stand up on their own after we leave, but our main mission is to kill bad guys."
Perhaps slightly wiser and more experienced than the first sergeant, the command sergeant major is expected to function completely without supervision. Like the old sage of times past, the command sergeant major's counsel is expected to be calm, settled and unequivocally accurate, but with an energy and enthusiasm that never wanes, even in the worst of times.
"We need to train hard and fast for the next six months," Pippin said with enthusiasm. "I look forward to meeting every one of you, Greywolf, First Team."