FORT HOOD, Texas -- The noncommissioned officer has been crucial to structure, good order, and discipline in the U.S. Army since 1778. The role of the division command sergeant major is an honor that many strive for but few achieve.

Command Sgt. Maj. John P. McDwyer assumed responsibility of First Army Division West at the 25th Street Chapel here on Jan. 16.

In welcoming the division's new senior enlisted Soldier, Division West Commander, Maj. Gen. Erik C. Peterson, cited McDwyer's combat experience and leadership abilities.

"In this respectful ceremony I want to recognize an exemplary senior noncommissioned officer and take this opportunity to reinforce the vital role of the noncommissioned officer corps in our Army," Peterson said. "Baron Fredrick Von Steuben said, 'The choice of noncommissioned officers is also an object of the greatest importance: the order and discipline of a regiment depends so much upon their behavior.'"

Division West's previous senior enlisted Soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey R. Dillingham, relinquished his responsibility on Sept. 28, 2017. An interim sergeant major advised until Peterson selected McDwyer.

McDwyer's previous assignment was the sergeant major of the Combined Arms Center-Training.

"I would like to first thank you for selecting me to join this great team," McDwyer said. "This division has a very important, complex, and unique mission and I look forward to being part of it."

The division trains Soldiers to deploy worldwide. "Command sergeant major McDwyer, you will be tasked to provide your expert NCO leadership to not only the division team, but to the tens of thousands of Soldiers of whom we will train and mobilize for the years to come," Peterson said.

McDwyer has been leading and inspiring Soldiers for more than 35 years.

"I knew him when he was the commandant of the NCO academy in Hawaii," said Sgt. 1st Class Rodney S. Jones, a human resource specialist and observer coach/trainer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West. "He was an inspiration, a hard charger, and he made sure that the Soldiers who graduated were ready to lead future formations. I have always viewed him as a humble Soldier, and I'm honored to be under his leadership again. He embodies the NCO creed."

McDwyer is no stranger to Fort Hood. He served over 10 years here in various units while simultaneously deploying.

Peterson stated, "Your vast base of experience, unparalleled expertise, and coaching will be instrumental in not only the successful accomplishment of our relentless, no-fail Division West mission, but also in substantially and credibly improving the readiness of our total Army."

Although colleagues, friends, and family were gathered to welcome McDwyer, he had already began meeting the Soldiers he would be leading.

"I met him in the headquarters building and I noticed he had a leader's presence," said Staff Sgt. Rubendaniel E. Fernandez, a wheeled vehicle mechanic and observer coach/trainer with HHC, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West. "He took the time to ask me about myself and my family. It showed that he cares."