By Mike A. Glasch, Fort Jackson LeaderAugust 1, 2008
Within minutes of taking command, Fort Jackson's new leader showed he is willing to buck tradition in favor of the welfare of his Soldiers.
At his Change of Command ceremony July 24, before beginning his speech, incoming commander Brig. Gen. Bradley May's first official order was for the Soldiers standing in formation, as the Carolina sun beat down on them, to stand, "at ease and shake it out. Loosen up a little bit, get the blood flowing."
May is the 43rd commander in the fort's history. He comes to Fort Jackson from Alexandria, Va., where he has served as the director of the Enlisted Personnel Management Directorate of the U.S. Army Human Resources Command
As the new commander of the Army's largest Basic Combat Training installation, May is aware of, and looking forward to the responsibility and challenges that face him.
"We are a nation at war. Our responsibility here is to take those young civilian volunteers and transform them into warriors so that they have the right skills to go into combat to win our nation's wars," he said.
It is a responsibility that Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commander, U.S. Army Accessions Command/deputy commander for initial military training, TRADOC, said May is ready to excel at.
"He (May) knows the needs of the Army and will carry forward what the Army needs from Fort Jackson," Freakley said. "Commanders depend on the quality of the Soldiers that you produce to fill their ranks. The Army and the nation depend on those commanders to bring their best to the fight and do it with the Soldiers that you train. Our Army is counting on you; our nation is counting on you."
May said his combat experience (Bosnia-Herzegovina and two tours in Iraq) is something that new Soldiers can use for inspiration. He was also quick to point out that he draws inspiration from them as well.
"These civilian volunteers are volunteering at a time when they know that more than likely they are going into combat. That elicits all types of emotions," he said. "It's such an honorable thing to do, selfless service. That's what makes commanders like me so proud to be serving."
May is aware that his responsibilities extend beyond the gates of Fort Jackson. As the largest employer of civilians in the Columbia area, May acknowledged that in many ways he is a Chief Executive Officer in the Midlands area.
"I see that being a critical role," May said. "We have such great community leaders out there that I really look forward early on in my command tour here to meeting ... and working with. I want to build on the partnerships that have already been established."
May succeeds Brig. Gen. James H. Schwitters, who is retiring after 33 years in uniform.