By Mr. Michael M Novogradac (Hood)August 4, 2017
West Fort Hood, Texas -- A new command sergeant major took over as standard bearer at the U.S. Army Operational Test Command in a ceremony here Friday.
Command Sgt. Mario O. Terenas arrived after serving as Commandant for Eighth U.S. Army's Wightman NCO Academy, Camp Jackson, South Korea.
Terenas takes the place of Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Schmidt, who has been with OTC since Feb. 26, 2016.
Schmidt will move on as the next Command Sergeant Major of Installation Management Command -- Pacific Region, headquartered at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
Brig. Gen. John C. Ulrich, commanding general of OTC, deferred honors to the Noncommissioned Officer Corps before officiating the ceremonial passing of the "Model 1840 Noncommissioned Officers Sword" between Schmidt and Terenas.
During his time making remarks at the podium, Terenas thanked Ulrich for his trust and confidence selecting him to come onboard at OTC.
"I am humbled and honored to have been chosen by you and to have the opportunity to play a role in the absolutely critical mission the OTC plays in ensuring our Soldiers receive the best equipment possible," Terenas said.
"I'll give 110 percent of myself to the organization. I will shoulder more than my share of the task, and then some, in the words of 'The Ranger Creed.'"
Terenas said he is thoroughly impressed by OTC's mission and the people performing the task of testing the Army's equipment.
"From the very first moment I set foot on the OTC grounds and began to learn the mission, I am absolutely impressed -- and to be honest -- somewhat intimidated at the level of knowledge that you folks have. To tell you the truth, it scares me pretty good," he said.
"You also have shown me already in a very brief period the professionalism and commitment that you demonstrate -- in particular, our Army Civilian workforce -- who is the true continuity and wealth of knowledge that makes the complex OTC mission happen."
The incoming senior enlisted leader also said he looks forward to working with Fort Hood's surrounding communities.
"I look forward to becoming involved in the cultivated close partnership of our friends in the community of Florence, and our valued friendships with the cities of Copperas Cove, Killeen, and Harker Heights, Gatesville and Belton, where many Fort Hood and OTC Soldiers live and participate in community events," he said.
He said he also looks forward to fostering OTC's military partnership with the III Corps and the Fort Hood Garrison partners and teams who provide support to OTC's testing mission.
Schmidt began his remarks thanking III Corps and Fort Hood leadership for its all-inclusive command climate.
"Thank you for all the support the Corps gave to OTC and its mission," he said. "It makes it a lot easier when you are working away from the flag pole to have the support of the installation on which you are a tenant unit."
Reflecting on the 18 months serving as OTC's senior enlisted leader, Schmidt said he had "little to no idea" what he was getting himself into.
After rattling off a host of operational test acronyms he had to quickly learn upon arrival, Schmidt said, "My time here has enlightened me to the testing community, and the truly herculean efforts it undertakes daily to ensure the right equipment gets fielded into the hands of our nation's Soldiers."
Ulrich spoke of both senior enlisted leaders.
He praised Schmidt on understanding that Soldiers and their families are the strength of the Army.
"He has made it his top priority to serve them well," said Ulrich. "He took great efforts to elevate the importance of our Research, Development, Test and Evaluation noncommissioned officers, making their positions key broadening assignments that promotion boards should value in a noncommissioned officer's career path. This is his initiative which required strategic engagement across numerous Army Centers of Excellence."
Ulrich went through Terenas' last few assignments as an Infantryman -- a recent stint as a battalion command sergeant major, and as a command sergeant major observer/controller at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California.
"I have the utmost confidence our Soldiers and Civilians are in great hands and I am certain we will continue our tradition of excellence without ever missing a beat," Ulrich said.
OTC is subordinate to the Army Test and Evaluation Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and is the Army's only independent operational tester. Testing and assessing Army, Joint, and Multi-service war fighting systems in realistic operational environments, OTC uses typical Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. OTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer -- the American Soldier.