Imagine, waking up at 6:00 a.m. and reporting to a formation as simply another Soldier within the ranks of many. No responsibility, unsure of your future and all the possible accolades that await you in the years to come. Now, standing in front of the same unit your career begun, as the most senior enlisted Soldier with enough accolades to fill the entire formation. Then one day retiring from the U.S. Army and returning to the same unit, now as the honorary Command Sgt. Maj. This is the reality for the fit, youthful, now retired Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Pritchard, whose leadership and dedication has brought him back full circle to the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command.
"His way to clearly articulate what's important, he was an excellent communicator and understood how to motivate people to do what was important and keep them on task," said Lt. Col. John W. Brock II, the 94th AAMDC, G35 who served alongside Pritchard in the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas.
The leadership and dedication of Pritchard has lead to some of his greatest accomplishments.
Pritchard entered the Army in July of 1986 and completed One Stop Unit Training (OSUT) at Fort Bliss, Texas. After OSUT, he reported to then, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 94th Air Defense Artillery Brigade in Kaiserslautern, Germany where he begun to truly shape his life and career in the Army.
"This command means a lot to myself and it means a lot to my wife," Pritchard said. "My wife and I first met in this command in Germany."
Naturally, the 94th AAMDC will always hold immeasurable value to himself, his wife Lori and their kids, Cari and Christa. He left the 94th ADA BDE and allowed his dedication and leadership qualities to propel him in rank and to greater leadership roles such as: platoon sergeant, operations sergeant, senior drill sergeant, first sergeant, chief of basic non-commissioned officer course, non-commissioned officer academy commandant and Command Sgt. Maj.
During his time in service, Pritchard was able to bring forth knowledge, experience and wisdom that left a positive effect on many people he worked alongside of.
"He was one of those command sergeants major that really could give officers a run for money in planning," said Brock. "He was exceptionally intelligent."
Once Pritchard completed his time in Fort Hood he then returned to the unit where his career started, the 94th AAMDC, but this time the unit had relocated to Hawaii. He would no longer be standing in the formation, but out in front leading the formation.
"To be able to be assigned to the 94th for such a long time period means a lot to me," Pritchard remarked. "I have a lot of respect for this command, serving quite frequently in the command."
Once he completed his time in the 94th AAMDC he would go on to become the Deputy Commandant at the United States Sergeants Major Academy before his retirement. Once retired, he continued to dedicate his time to lead Soldiers and their families, but now as the Executive Director for the Armed Forces YMCA in El Paso, Texas.
With his extensive resume, his legacy was solidified within the ranks of the 94th AAMDC and he would return quite often as he was invited to be apart of events held by the 94th AAMDC. He and his wife Lori even came back to Hawaii to renew their wedding vows.
On December 6, 2018 he was invited to the Saint Barbara's Day Ball to become the Honorary Command Sgt. Maj. of the 94th AAMDC. The current Command Sgt. Maj. of the 94th AAMDC, Command Sgt. Maj. Eric McCray praised the very qualities that carried Pritchard throughout his career.
"Command Sgt. Maj. (R) Pritchard's servant leadership is what stands out the most, his willingness to serve something greater than his self," said McCray. "Always placing the needs of the nation and others before any personal accolades over 20 plus years of service."
To this day, Pritchard remains an excellent example of what true service, dedication and leadership is.
"I've always taught others seize the opportunity," Pritchard stated. "Not for the goodness of you as an individual, but what you're going to gain from it so you can give back, train, educate and teach others."