By Cheryl A. Moore, USACE, Afghanistan DistrictAugust 15, 2018
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan- U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Afghanistan District held its change of responsibility ceremony August 13, 2018. Command Sgt. Maj. Nathaniel Atkinson, Jr. assumed responsibility from Sgt. Maj. Jorge A. Rivera, who held the senior advisor position for more than seven months.
Col. Jason E. Kelly, USACE commander, Afghanistan District was the host of the ceremony.
"Because we lead people, taking responsibility requires us to be brilliant coaches. Brilliant coaches know so much more than just the rules of the game. They know how to communicate and position players in such a way that generates amazing results for the team! They guide, inspire, and empower the team to release and develop its full potential," said Kelly. "Sergeant Major Rivera, you've done this. Command Sergeant Major Atkinson, I know that you will."
Sgt. Maj. Nathaniel Atkinson, Jr., the Afghanistan District Command Sergeant Major, the senior enlisted Soldier in the unit and principal advisor to the commander, is now the custodian of the unit colors.
He is a native of Goldsboro, NC and enlisted in the Army in March 1997 as an engineer. Sgt. Maj. Atkinson has served as Heavy Equipment Operator, Senior Construction Equipment Operator, Squad Leader, Senior Drill Sergeant, Platoon Sergeant, Company Operations Sergeant, First Sergeant, Battalion Operations Sergeant, and Senior Career Advisor.
His assignments have included Fort Polk, Louisiana, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Fort Stewart, Georgia, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Fort Knox, Kentucky and Fort Bliss, Texas. Along with his overseas assignment in Alaska he has deployed to Nicaragua, Iraq, and Afghanistan for combat and humanitarian operations.
In accepting his new responsibility, Atkinson thanked all the senior leadership of the Corps of Engineers for selecting him to serve as the Afghanistan District Command Sergeant Major. "I would like to give a big thank you to my wife Felicia and all our families back home for supporting us throughout our adventurous careers," he said. Without them, we cannot be where we are at today.
He also gave thanks to Col Kelly and the Afghanistan District saying, "I look forward to our future endeavors of delivering the program and building Afghan capacity."
Meanwhile, Sgt. Major Rivera will embark on a new adventure at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and a pending reunion with his family. As part of his final remarks to the Afghanistan District he said, "Col. Kelly I wish I had more time with you to see how this great organization morphs over time with such a talented leader. I now take with me two pages of notes from the "school of Kelly".
Rivera also reminded the District team whereas the change of responsibility filled with symbolism is more than just replacing the old guy, it is about welcoming a new CSM to the USACE family, noting the long history held in Afghanistan by USACE, dating back to 1960 building roads and other infrastructure. He said, "USACE engineers, project managers, contract specialists, analysts and support staff continued this tradition either directly working on projects or indirectly by enabling the program. I am confident that you will continue to provide engineering solutions to the nation's greatest challenges here and at home because you are the very best in the industry."