RICHMOND, Va. - If there's one thing that is always constant, it's change. The 80th Training Command celebrated change as they said farewell to Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Darlington and welcome to Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Thomas at the command's change of responsibility ceremony held at the Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, during the 80th TC Commander's Readiness Workshop Feb. 8, 2018.
Maj. Gen. Bruce Hackett, commanding general of the 80th TC, conveyed his thoughts at the ceremony. He spoke highly of Darlington's work, as well as his respect for Thomas as the incoming command sergeant major.
"Command Sgt. Maj. Darlington was an exceptional driving force for this command. You will truly be missed, but not forgotten," said Hackett. "And I welcome CSM Thomas as he comes to us from the 451st Expeditionary Sustainment Command."
According to Darlington, the change of responsibility was more about the soldiers and civilians of the command, and not so much about himself. Speaking to about 100 attendees at the ceremony, Darlington, a Corinth, Texas native, said that every member of the 80th team is instrumental in providing outstanding leadership.
"Without you all, the mission couldn't happen, and the command wouldn't be successful," said Darlington. "I appreciate all the support you've given me throughout my time here."
As he said goodbye, Darlington shared what he believes are the greatest achievements during his service with the command. He stressed that one of the 80th's biggest successes is its impact on readiness, which generates combat-ready, trained and equipped soldiers to win our nation's wars.
"Of the milestones while I served here, I'm happy to tell you that we trained more than 75,000 soldiers over a three-year period," said Darlington. "The 80th is the premier command of the Army Reserve."
During his tenure at the 80th, Darlington said the command had deployed soldiers to Kuwait in support of the Army Central Command Basic Leader Course.
"We started with a small group of six soldiers in 2015, then it grew to nine instructors in 2016," said Darlington. "In 2017 we had 17 boots on the ground, including the first ever leadership team for the Army Reserve. We've accomplished all this because of your hard work and dedication."
At the ceremony, Darlington also charged the soldiers and civilians to make lasting changes, regardless of where they are in life.
"Maybe you can't change the whole world, but you can change your little piece of it," Darlington said. "Take time to truly make a difference in your pocket of the world."
He hopes that the legacy he leaves with the 80th will continue.
"I want the instructors to remember that it's not just about training and instructing students in the classroom," said Darlington. "Remember that your reach, as instructors, is pivotal in the future of the students and leaders. The impact you leave will carry on through future generations. Remember the urgency of the Army mission."
As the incoming senior enlisted leader, Thomas also spoke at the ceremony. He thanked his family for their faithful support of his military career. He also expressed his appreciation for being given the opportunity to take on the new position.
"I'm truly honored and humbled to assume responsibility as the 80th's command sergeant major," said Thomas. "I thank you all for welcoming me with open arms."
Hailing from Murray, Kentucky, Thomas explained that, of his 30 years in the Army, he spent half his service in training units and the other half in operational units. He credits his military police instructor experience in helping him prepare for his new position at the command.
"I know the unique challenges that a training command faces," said Thomas. "I look forward to working alongside everyone and improving our foxholes as we train America's greatest soldiers. We are the best Army Reserve soldiers."
At the ceremony, Thomas also expressed his gratitude for Darlington's steadfast leadership and mentorship.
"He's helped me out as I'm coming on board," said Thomas. "I want to continue upon his accomplishments and keep the momentum moving forward."