By Megan Locke Simpson, Courier staff June 9, 2014
FORT Campbell, Ky. -- It's a typical Tuesday afternoon at Fort Campbell, and the inside of Garrison Headquarters is particularly quiet.
The peaceful atmosphere gave Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Bower time to reflect on his tenure here. Bower will soon be leaving for a new assignment, and he invites the community to attend his Change of Responsibility ceremony at Garrison Headquarters, June 23 at 3 p.m.
The Soldier, with 26-years of service, admits that learning how to be a garrison command sergeant major required a certain learning curve after spending most of his career as an Infantryman, where he deployed to Uganda, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. However, being at the post on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line for the first time made it enjoyable.
"This is my first time at Fort Campbell," Bower said. "So I got here in July of 2012, and my experience here is just incredible."
Since his arrival nearly two years ago, Bower has learned much about the way a garrison and the Army as a whole operates. This knowledge gives him a much greater appreciation for all the members that make up the Army team.
"I will say before coming into this job, you take for granted what the civilian workforce does for the Soldiers," he said. "You know, the Army, there's Soldiers in there, but not necessarily the green-suiters or the Soldiers run the Army. Civilians run the Army. They're the continuity from one garrison sergeant major or garrison commander to the next."
In addition to the hard work of Department of Defense civilians, Soldiers and contractors, Bower sees the local area as what sets Fort Campbell apart from many other installations. It's also part of what makes the home of the 101st Airborne Division one of the Army's best duty assignments.
"Of all the installations I've been to, Fort Campbell and the local communities by far, they support the Soldiers more so than any others," he said. "… The community support puts an exclamation point on why Fort Campbell is successful, and why the vision is that you come here and your experience is so good that you want to return here, if the Army tells you [that] you have to leave, and then so much so, you want to retire here."
Bower said he's seen many positive changes on post since his arrival, such as the consolidation of important services into the town center location, and he expects this trend to continue.
"I think the transformation of Fort Campbell and where we're going with being an expeditionary post [are highlights] …," Bower explained.
After serving as a line of communication on the garrison side between unit command sergeants major and other noncommissioned officers, Bower offers simple advice to Soldiers across Fort Campbell: get out, explore and enjoy the opportunities available here.
"See Fort Campbell and the local surrounding communities and make this your best experience," he said. "… [The Army is] a great way to grow up in life and progress and raise a Family, believe it or not. There's a lot of hardship in there, but the Army offers a lot to a Soldier. So you just have to take advantage of that."
Bower will head to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey at the end of the month, where Army, Navy and Air Force units all reside.
"I'm from Maryland, so I'll be two and a half hours from home," he said. "Two and a half hours from where my kids go to school, go to college, so I'm looking forward to that.
"I will look back at Fort Campbell with very fond memories and a great experience … I'm glad I was here, and I'm glad had the opportunity to come to Fort Campbell."