By Mr. Robert Timmons (IMCOM)September 7, 2017
Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Berry had a homecoming of sorts Aug. 31 when he took command of the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy from Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Gilmer at a ceremony in Fort Jackson's NCO Club.
Berry was born on Fort Jackson and spent time at the drill sergeant school as a student before hitting the trail at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
The commandant of the USADSA is unusual as there are few command assignments for enlisted leaders across the Army.
"Not often do we have change of command ceremony in the enlisted corps," said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg, senior enlisted leader for the Center of Initial Military Training. "I am actually quite thrilled to be" hosting the ceremony.
Berry "comes to us with a wealth of energy and knowledge," Gragg said.
He recently served as the senior enlisted leader for U.S. Army Garrison in Area 1 at Camp Red Cloud, Korea. He was also the senior enlisted leader for 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment and held many operations assignments throughout his career. He has three deployments to Afghanistan under his belt in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The main part of a change of command ceremony is the passing of the colors symbolizing the lineage of the unit and a visual representation of the authority of the new commander.
After passing the flag to Gragg, who gave it to Berry, Gilmer held an impromptu hat ceremony, where he removed the drill sergeant's signature campaign hat, handed it to his son, Steven, and donned a patrol cap because "there is only one command sergeant major in the Army who gets to wear the distinctive drill sergeant's campaign headgear and that's the commandant and not this guy."
"I'm excited because I could not have handpicked a better command sergeant major to be the commandant than Command Sgt. Maj. Berry," Gilmer said.
"Mike, you blazed a remarkable trail of relevant, rigorous training here at the Drill Sergeant Academy," Berry said after taking command. "To the drill sergeants, leaders, platoon sergeant leaders, first sergeants and cadre, I hold you all in the highest regard and look forward to earning your trust. I do not take lightly the significance of what you do and responsibilities of your positions. We are charged with engineering and producing (non-commissioned officers) who are transforming our nation's most precious resource -- citizens of this great country who aspire to be Soldiers and serve their nation."
Gilmer, who is retiring, told Berry "in my short time with you, I have been tremendously impressed by you and know you will take the academy to new heights. You will work … to make a ready, resilient, disciplined and lethal Soldier."
Gilmer has not only led the academy, but "made the U.S. Army better," Gragg said. "The Marine Corps the Air Force both have emulated U.S. Army practices … The Colombian Army, in the process of creating their own drill sergeant academy based entirely off" of what is done at the USASDA.
Berry is married to Sgt. Maj. Kenya Berry and has two sons Kenyon, age 23, and Kristian, 14.