FORT KNOX, Ky. -- Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Willett, senior enlisted advisor for the 1st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC), retired Oct. 23 during a joint retirement and relinquishment of responsibility ceremony at Waybur Theater.Willett, served for 26 years, but he has spent his entire life in a military environment. His stepfather is a retired sergeant first class working as a wheeled vehicle mechanic serving in both Vietnam and Desert Storm. Willett grew up a military brat, and the Army became a way of life. His wife of 22 years, Vemetress Willett, is also an Army brat and they met while both families were stationed in Germany.The 1st TSC was tasked to change locations from Fort Bragg, N.C. to Fort Knox to enhance the units training capabilities. Willett was instrumental in standing up the 1st TSC after the transition to Kentucky.Usually, when the Army moves a unit from one headquarters to another, it does not deploy its troops during the transition, but the 1st TSC did not have this luxury. It has had troops continuously deployed to the Central Command area of responsibility since 2006, and it did not stop its deployments as it moved from Fort Bragg to Fort Knox."The move from Bragg to Knox was a major muscle move," Willett said. "We experienced an eighty percent turnover and had only forty people here, working out of a transient building. It was painful at times, but at lot of people did a lot of great work to make it as seamless as possible."From early in his career deploying to Afghanistan after 9/11, establishing operations at Bagram Airfield, to setting up the 1st TSC at Fort Knox, Willet made a career out of helping Soldiers. Three weeks before his retirement, Willett was in theater caring for troops, investing in the Army's greatest assets -- its Soldiers."There is no higher calling as a Soldier than deploying to defend the values and security of our great nation," Willett said.Maj. Gen. Flem B. "Donnie" Walker, Jr., commanding general of the 1st TSC spoke about how Willett has always placed Soldiers ahead of himself."Willett has always put himself second place when it comes to the betterment of taking care of his Soldiers," Walker said. "He has met and done so much for so many people. His presence will be sorely missed."Willett said he had mixed emotions at his retirement ceremony when he uttered the phrase, "Blackjack seven, signing off." He said he is walking away from the 1st TSC knowing he achieved his personal definition of success, 'Leave it better than when you found it.'Willett feels this is the right time to step away from the Army. After leaving Kentucky, Willett and his wife plan to reside in Washington State. He said he wants to continue working with those who have served in the U.S. military.
"I've invested a lot into the Army," Willett said. "I am a Soldier for life. I am most proud of all the relationships I have built over the course of my career. I would love to one day be considered a civilian sergeant major, helping other civilians."Command Sgt. Maj. Bernard Smalls, 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, will assume responsibility as the 1st TSC senior enlisted advisor next month.