By Staff Sgt. Dillon HeyligerJune 5, 2018
FORT BRAGG, N.C. ˗ Chief Warrant Officer 5 Heriberto Serrano Jr. served as the first ever United States Army Special Operations Command, command chief warrant officer and now, at the end of his 36-year career, he has passed responsibility to his successor, CWO5 Mark Meyer, Friday, June 1.
Serrano held the position since June 18, 2015.
The change of responsibility ceremony was held in the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, where Serrano previously served as the first John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School CCWO.
Serrano's career spans almost four decades, joining the Army in 1983 as an infantryman, completing Special Forces Qualification Course in 1987, and attaining the rank of warrant officer in 1994.
His service was largely spent on the ground in various Special Forces Operational Detachment -- Alpha teams -colloquially known as an A-Team. On these teams he combated both Islamic terrorism and narcoterrorism in South America. His distinguished history can be found both within his biography and amongst the military awards and badges that adorn his uniform.
"Being the first, I felt a little bit like Christopher Columbus," Serrano said.
"Working with the USASOC staff is like working with indigenous personnel," he said, making reference to the Special Forces' need to work with a variety of cultures throughout the world.
"You have to work by, with and through. That's what I found having a CCWO at that level was."
"They have such an amazing team up there, really you don't run around like a staff officer trying to get things done, you just have to bring up the issues, have the meetings, and the team will tackle it."
Serrano served as the senior warrant officer advisor for USASOC on all aspects of Army Special Operations. The position serves as the principal advisor to the command regarding the unique capabilities and needs of warrant officers within the command.
With more than 34,000 men and women serving in Special Operations around the globe, Serrano was a valuable set of eyes and ears to the commander and a direct line of communication to our Special Forces Soldiers at the lowest levels.
"He (LTG Kenneth Tovo, USASOC commander) could send me places to dive deep…and I could come back and say, 'These are some of the issues the teams are seeing and here are some of the remedies the planners are already working on…and this is where you can assist.' That way he can have conversations with FORSCOM (U.S. Army Forces Command) commanders and all the way up to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army."
During his tenure at USASOC Serrano says one of his greatest accomplishments is the establishment of a Special Operations command chief warrant officer panel to select senior warrant officer leaders across the command.
"It's unlike any other because we do it at the DA Secretariat level, at HRC (U.S. Army Human Resources Command), the same place where they do promotions and command-select lists. You can't go any higher."
Serrano says this will allow USASOC to vet and choose the absolute best warrant officer candidates, from Special Forces or aviation, in an objective manner, to fill the CCWO role.
CWO5 Meyer is the first USASOC command chief warrant officer selected by the panel.
Prior to his selection, Meyer served as the command chief warrant officer for U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command, a stone's throw from his new position.
Serrano offered advice to his successor.
"Keep the relevancy (of the position), know what the requirements are and where we need to be (as an organization) every five to 10 years. Be ready for anything and try to have the vision to prepare (for the needs of the Nation) through education and training."
Reflecting on his time in service, leading from his first years in the Army until his retirement, Serrano tells a story from his first duty position in the infantry in 1983.
"My first 1st Sgt. I had as a private in the infantry, in Germany during the Cold War in 1983…he had a Silver Star, was a decorated war hero from Vietnam, we looked up to him."
"Well, Pfc. Serrano was a little sloppy on the machine gun and my first sergeant was not happy. He drilled us for hours, we even went into night drills," Serrano continued.
The 1st Sgt. asked, "Pfc. Serrano why do you think I'm working you so hard?" Serrano replied that he thought he wanted them to be better.
The first sergeant replied with something a young Serrano didn't expect but would reflect on for the rest of his career, "I'm going to make you the best. I want you to keep winning the Nations' wars because losing armies don't pay their retiree's anything and I want to stay retired."
Serrano now reflects on that statement with the strategic thought of a 36-year career Soldier.
"We can lose the Nation that quickly. It can be one battle that leads to another loss in another battle and before you know it we could lose the Republic, we could lose the Nation as a whole."
Regarding his next step in life, Serrano adds, "I'm staying right here in North Carolina, here in Fayetteville."
Serrano spent more than 24 years of his 36-year career at Fort Bragg, longer than he spent in his native city, El Paso, Texas.
"Special Operations…this is my family,"