FORT EUSTIS, Virginia -- The 597th Transportation Brigade welcomed Command Sgt. Maj. Brian M. O'Leary as its new Command Sergeant Major during a formal ceremony at the McClellan Fitness Center Oct. 27.
As the Army's TRADOC Band played a military score announcing the arrival of the official party, Soldiers from Fort Eustis based 832nd Trans. Bn., Joint Base-Charleston, S.C. based 841st Trans. Bn. and Beaumont, Texas based 842nd Trans. Bn. stood at attention as 597th Trans. Bde. Commander, Col. Frederick L. Crist, outgoing 597th Trans. Bde. command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Jerome M. Smalls and incoming 597th Trans. Bde. command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Brian M. O'Leary made their entrance.
In the presence of roughly 200 Soldiers, family members and invited guests, the spouses of the departing and incoming command sergeant majors are presented with a traditional bouquet of yellow roses.
Mrs. Karen Smalls was presented a bouquet from Sgt. Mitchell Keeton, the 2016 AMC Best Warrior of the Year, in appreciation for the support she has shown to the brigade over the past 26 months.
Mrs. Monica O'Leary was presented a similar yellow bouquet by Sgt. Luis Cruzsanchez, the 2017 Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) Best Warrior of the year, to welcome her to the 597th Trans. Bde. family.
In his opening remarks, Col. Crist spoke of how to some see Change of Responsibility Ceremonies as sad events for a command because the see the departure of a respected teammate and the prospect of change with some level of trepidation.
"But to me, I see this as a day of celebration," Crist said. "I see this as an opportunity to celebrate all that Command Sgt. Maj. Smalls has achieved during his tenure, and an opportunity to celebrate the arrival of our new command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. O'Leary, to our team."
Crist remarked that before he spoke of what Small's accomplishments during his tenure as the 597th Trans. Bde. command sergeant major, it was more important to speak of who Smalls is.
"Command Sgt. Maj. Smalls is first and foremost a Soldier," said Crist. "He is a leader and expert in his warrior tasks and drills. He is disciplined and tough, while still capable of being compassionate and sincere. But most importantly, he loves his country and his Army.
Command Sgt. Maj. Smalls also recognized the events of the day for celebration.
"Over my 27-year career, I've seen countless First Sergeants and Command Sergeant Majors regret relinquishing their responsibilities," Smalls said. "But for me, this isn't even remotely the case. I know that the Soldiers in the brigade are better today than they were 26 months ago when I arrived here. And I know that under Command Sgt. Maj. O'Leary's leadership, you will all be better Soldiers at the end of his tenure than you are today. This is why I can confidently hand over my responsibilities without regret or hesitation."
Addressing the crowd last, O'Leary expressed thanks for the opportunity he has been afforded and offered insight into what makes a better Soldier.
"Since receiving this assignment, there is no shortage of people telling me just how lucky I am," said O'Leary. "The 597th Transportation Brigade plays an important part in the SDDC mission as we move and sustain forces and material across the nation and around the globe.
"This organization was at the top of my list for assignments because I wanted to serve with the very best, and there is no Soldier prouder of "Rapid Support" than I am today," O'Leary said. "My approach is simple. Do the best you can. Give me the best you can do in your personal and professional lives…and expect the same from those around you. RAPID SUPPORT!"