'Big Red One' changes top enlisted leader, welcomes Grinston as command sergeant major
By Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan WileyOctober 25, 2013
The "Big Red One" welcomed a new division command sergeant major and bid farewell to the man who served as its top enlisted Soldier for almost two years during a Victory Honors ceremony Oct. 25 at Fort Riley's Victory Park.
Command Sgt. Major Michael A. Grinston assumed responsibility as the 1st Infantry Division's senior enlisted noncommissioned officer from Command Sgt. Major Charles V. Sasser Jr.
Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley commanding general, said seeing the division's 23rd command sergeant major step into the ranks of the division's leaders was "bittersweet" because it meant saying goodbye to Sasser.
Funk used the words "professionalism" and "personal courage" to describe Sasser's tenure in the division and said he was "constantly on point for the nation" during his 30-year Army career.
"When he arrived here in 2011, he immediately set to preparing the headquarters as the Regional Command-East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom," Funk said. "Due to his tremendous deployment experience, he took every opportunity as the command sergeant major to mentor the staff sergeants major and the brigade sergeants major as well as providing invaluable tactical advice to the command."
In an informal going-away ceremony for Sasser on Oct. 16, Funk praised Sasser for his work with the Afghan noncommissioned officer corps during the division's deployment from April 2012 to March 2013. He said the mentorship Sasser provided the senior Afghan noncommissioned officers showed them what right looks like.
Sasser said he and his Family were sad to be leaving "such an exceptional group of people."
"This team will always be unparalleled in comparison to our peers," he said. "Not to put down the Army's other nine divisions, but we'll always be 'the one.'"
Sasser is set to retire later this year, and he said, "I will always be a Big Red One Soldier."
Grinston said he, too, will always be a Big Red One Soldier.
"I will forever have a lasting tie to this division that will never be broken," Grinston said.
He last served in the Big Red One as a first sergeant in the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, and deployed with his company for 12 months in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004.
From a podium set up in the park, Grinston pointed to a path of stones engraved with names of division Soldiers who died in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
"There are a couple of names of my Soldiers who I took into combat," Grinston said.
Until arriving at the division's headquarters last week and touring the park, he was unaware his Soldiers were honored in this way, he said.
Grinston earned two Bronze Star Medals for valor during that deployment.
As the division's senior noncommissioned officer, Grinston pledged to "work to build teamwork, maintain Soldiers and civilians (and) build morale while maintaining discipline in myself and those in our community."