FORT EUSTIS, Va. (Aug. 14, 2015) -- The 597th Transportation Brigade held a Change of Responsibility Ceremony at the Fort Eustis McClellan Fitness Center, Friday.
Soldiers, brigade leadership, civilians and family members bade farewell to Command Sgt. Maj. Alveno Hodge and welcomed incoming command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Jerome Smalls, to the 597th Trans. Bde.
Following tradition, the unit colors were passed from the outgoing command sergeant major to the brigade commander, who then passed them to the incoming command sergeant major to mark the official change of responsibility.
Speaking before a crowd of roughly 150 people, 597th Trans. Bde. commander, Col. Stephen Riley, thanked Command Sgt. Maj. Hodge for his years of military service to the Army, the brigade, and it's Soldiers.
"Command Sgt. Maj. Hodge came to the brigade in August of 2013, and during his tenure here he has shared a wealth of experience, wisdom and leadership with the Soldiers of the 597th," Riley said. "Working with Command Sgt. Maj. Hodge these last few months, all I could think about was the particular passage form the NCO Creed which states 'No one is more professional than I.' Most of us have heard that phrase or uttered it hundreds of times during our career, but Command Sgt. Maj. Hodge lived it each and every day."
Riley used the occasion to also highlight a few of Hodge's many accomplishes while assigned to the brigade.
"Under Command Sgt. Maj. Hodge's guidance, the brigade deployed Soldiers to Liberia and Senegal in support of Operation Unified Assistance. Both were short notice deployments as part of the Joint Task Force-Port Opening capability and proved invaluable in opening the airports to military operations at the two most critical logistics nodes during the initial weeks of the operation," said Riley. "Command Sgt. Maj. Hodge also played an influential role in the 688th Rapid Port Opening Element's competing as a Department of the Army level semi-finalist for the Deployment Excellence Award - a competition that it later went on to win."
During his opportunity to speak, Command Sgt. Maj. Hodge spoke of the importance for leaders to mentor and mold the troops who serve under them.
"I've always made it a priority to mentor and provide guidance to our junior noncommissioned officers serving within two grades of my own rank," Hodge said. "It is because of this, I know that the 597th Trans. Bde. is in good hands with its new command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Jerome Smalls."
As it turns out, Smalls once worked for Hodge during a previous overseas assignment in the Middle East.
"Today is truly humbling, Smalls said. "Just three years ago when I first met Command Sgt. Maj. Hodge, he was a brigade command sergeant major in Kuwait, and I was a sergeant major in one of his battalions. Today, I now have the honor of receiving the unit colors from him."
Hodge will officially retire from the Army after nearly 30 years of military service on Aug. 21.