By Ms. Kelly Morris (U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence)June 19, 2018
As the training sergeant major for the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence retired from active duty here June 15, the theme was leaving a legacy.
During a ceremony honoring the service of Command Sgt. Maj. Estevan Sotorosado, he was described by a former command teammate as exemplifying the Army Values.
"Selfless service is defined as putting the welfare of the nation, the Army and your subordinates before your own. And I can tell you, that is what he is all about," said Brig. Gen. William D. Taylor, deputy commanding general for Maneuver, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.
In his remarks, Taylor recalled meeting Sotorosado.
"His first question (to me) was, 'What do you want me to focus on to make our team the best that it can be?' I thought about that a lot," Taylor said.
"The command team we built, that you built, was one of the most incredible things any commander could ever ask for--a sergeant major who is dedicated to the team, to the unit and to the Soldiers," Taylor said.
Sotorosado was described as fearless in the face of the enemy, and a leader who shows other Soldiers how to persevere in tough times, according to Taylor.
"He always led from the front," Taylor said.
Born in New York, Sotorosado joined the Army in 1986 after graduating high school in Aguada, Puerto Rico and became an Army cargo helicopter repairer.
His career began in Germany by being placed in a tank battalion for a few days, although he was supposed to be a Chinook crew chief maintainer, according to Sotorosado.
Once he was rerouted to his rightful unit, he began to ask himself what he needed to do to be successful.
He traced his focus on leaving a legacy back to when a cook at a correctional facility gave him a tour and some timely advice that stayed with him throughout his career.
While touring the correctional facility, he noticed people of various ranks there. The cook asked Sotorosado what he wanted his legacy to be--whether similar to what he saw at the facility, or something greater. He told Sotorosado about the story of Joshua in the Bible which had an impact on his life, Sotorosado said.
"To be strong, to be courageous and to not depart from the book of law, because everything he touches will be good as long as he remains faithful," Sotorosado recited. "And that's what I did."
Sotorosado previously served as the command sergeant major on multiple assignments, including 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, Camp Humphreys, South Korea; 1-222nd Aviation Regt., Fort Eustis, Va.; 3-160th Special Operations Aviation Regt. (Airborne) at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.; and 2-160th SOAR (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Ky.
His prior service also included the CH-47 Cargo Helicopter Division Sergeant Major at Fort Eustis.
Throughout his career, he served on multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Taylor contacted Soldiers who had served with Sotorosado in the past and asked what they would want him to say on their behalf at the ceremony.
"One said he was always giving advice and always teaching us how to be better… He was an incredible trainer… He's a great family man…. He was one I could go to and ask the question: 'Sergeant Major, how do I balance military with my family?'
"He was teaching them what it was to be a man of family, to be a great leader. They all said 'thank you' for that," Taylor said.
A formal prayer by Aviation Chaplain Sonny Moore about leaving a legacy was "obviously inspired," Taylor said, recalling Sotorosado's career focus.
"(Sotorosado) said, 'Sir, remember, what we really have to do here is create a legacy. It's not about us, but to create a legacy for those below us that they want to continue to serve," Taylor said.
Taylor commended Sotorosado and wife Melissa for their hard work for 32 years.
"I know as you hang up your spurs and hang up your wings, you will always be able to look back on your career with great honor and know that your legacy lives on," Taylor said.
In his remarks Sotorosado thanked his wife, Melissa and members of the audience for attending.
Sotorosado spoke about servicemembers and friends who supported and served with him across his career, the difference they made and memories they shared.
"For me it's a beautiful day. It's a blessed day," he said.
During the event, awards were presented to the Sotorosados for their service and support to the Army and Fort Rucker community.
Sotorosado and wife Melissa plan to reside in Enterprise, Alabama. They have two grown children, Steven and Josian.