By Kari Hawkins, AOctober 7, 2015
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Words of appreciation were the language of the day for one of the Army's newest colonels following his promotion ceremony on Sept. 29.
Col. Ray Sartain, military deputy director for the Field Support Directorate, Aviation and Missile Command Logistics Center, was promoted in a ceremony in the Bob Jones Auditorium that showcased his 35-year career as, first, an enlisted Soldier with the Alabama National Guard and then as an officer in the Guard and, later, the Reserves. His career includes 11 years of active duty service either mobilized or deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism. His deployments include Operation Desert Spring in 2002, Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, Operation Noble Eagle in 2003-04 and Operation Enduring Freedom in 2009 and again in 2012.
A native of Florence, Sartain began his military career as a medic and then broadened his career working in transportation, engineering, contracting support and logistics support. He first came to AMCOM to be the operations officer for the G-3 (Operations) in 2008.
"You have an accomplished and long path of service to our Army and our nation," said Lisha Adams, now the executive deputy to the Army Materiel Command's Gen. Dennis Via who officiated the ceremony.
"You will achieve even greater heights in the future … I look forward to seeing you in your new capacity as you continue to serve and do great things for the Army, and the Aviation and Missile Command."
Wearing the new shoulder straps of a colonel, Sartain told AMCOM employees, and family and friends attending the ceremony that he wanted to take time to recognize those who have positively impacted his career and his life. He began with two special guests whose presence makes a difference every work day in the lives of Sparkman Center employees -- janitor Brenda Ford and badge checker Jeff Tanner.
The two employees "work hard, always have a smile on their face and are doing things for us that we don't see," Sartain said.
Presenting Ford with roses, Sartain said she has been a good friend to him and often shares a word with him when they meet in the hallway. Sartain then thanked Tanner, who always greets him as he enters Building 5308. He presented Tanner with an Alabama windbreaker, joking that, as an Auburn fan, it was difficult to purchase the gift.
With those unofficial "thank yous" taken care of, Sartain then got down to the business of thanking all those who have helped him achieve success.
"When you look back through your career and personal life, you can pick out individuals who made a big impact. You think about the family and friends who have helped you along the way," Sartain said. "You can always go back and look at the people in your life and know who got you here today. For me, it's been the people who have worked for me, with me or who have mentored me."
His list included retired Sgt. 1st Class Larry Purser, who was Sartain's platoon sergeant both when he was enlisted and again when he returned to his National Guard unit as an officer.
"He was the person who taught me how to be a leader, how to serve other people," Sartain said. "He showed me that you never ask men to do something you wouldn't do yourself. He showed me by example. He also taught me discipline and I thank him for our friendship."
Sartain recalled his first deployment when he was part of a five-man advance team to Kuwait that included now long-time friends Mike Miller and Bill Hammontree, whom he both recognized.
"Somehow, we became known as the Wolf Pack. Our Operations NCO and forward sergeant major, now retired Sgt. Maj. Bill Hammontree, was always the person who could find anything. If we needed something, he would come up with it. We'd say, 'Don't tell us where you got this, Billy.' He knew how to build relationships and get things," Sartain said.
He thanked Miller, who is now a colonel, for being his battle buddy. The two have been friends since 2000. "You have been there for me as a brother in Christ and also a friend," Sartain said, joking that the two of them are getting too old to participate in Tough Mudder competitions.
Sartain recalled an exchange that occurred when he and Miller were preparing for their first deployment.
"When you deploy for the first time you really don't know what to expect. My wife Kim was there as we were processing. In front of her, Mike said to me 'So, what did Kim think of you volunteering?' I guess that was a small detail I left out. I didn't tell her I had volunteered," he said.
Sartain also thanked officiate Adams, whom he first met when he served as Adams' operations officer at AMCOM G-3 (Operations). He later worked directly for Adams as her military executive officer.
"She has had a big impact on my life in the way she has lived her life as a Christian lady and how she always treated me with respect," Sartain said. He described Adams as a strong leader who would write personal notes of thanks to her employees and who provided support to Sartain's family during a medical crisis when Sartain was deployed.
Sartain said he is appreciative for the eight years he has worked in uniform at AMCOM, taking on six different assignments during that time.
"This experience has taught me a lot about aviation. I was a logistics guy when I came here. I've learned how to support the warfighter each and every day through my assignments in G-2 Operations, ALC Logistics Support Facility, Aviation Field Maintenance Directorate and now the Field Support Directorate. I've worked with a lot of good people between deployments in 2009 and 2012," he said.
"It means a lot to me to be part of the team here."
Sartain thanked his family -- his wife Kim of 23 years, two daughters, mother and father, mother-in-law, and brother and his wife and his pastor, Bobby Gourley, who gave the invocation. And, he thanked his heavenly father.
"I want to thank my Lord and savior Jesus Christ. He's guided my path along the way. I don't always understand him or why things happen. But I can look back on things and know they meant something and were a part of how I got here today," he said.