ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Command Sgt. Maj. Henney Hodgkins took over as the senior enlisted Soldier of the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command during a change of responsibility ceremony here Dec. 14, 2018.
Hodgkins replaced Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Graham, who retired from his 31-year Army career after serving 33 months as the senior enlisted advisor for the Army's premier organization dedicated to countering the full range of CBRNE threats.
Hodgkins, who comes to her new assignment after serving as the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence (MSCoE) command sergeant major at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, committed herself to the command's Soldiers, civilians and families. She said she wants to continue the work of her predecessors.
"I follow in the footsteps of several great leaders," she said. "To the leaders present today, I'm honored to join your ranks, because you represent the best our nation has to offer."
Hodgkins praised the strong foundation Graham laid for the command.
"You should be proud to know that you've touched so many with your caring and focused leadership over the years, and that legacy will endure," she said.
Brig. Gen. James Bonner, commander of the 20th, presided over the ceremony and praised Graham for his time with the command.
"Having a talented leader of Ken's caliber as command sergeant major of the 20th CBRNE Command has been vital to ensuring mission success," he said. "It made my job a whole lot easier having Ken by my side."
Bonner detailed Henney's five previous assignments as a command sergeant major and how they prepared her for this assignment.
"Henney is an accomplished leader who brings a wealth of knowledge. She understands our mission and she knows how to successfully lead Soldiers," he said. "She's the right person to become the voice of this command."
A retirement ceremony in honor of Graham followed the change of responsibility. During a farewell address that was at times funny and at others emotional, Graham shared the unique challenges of leading 4,000 military and civilian team members distributed across 19 installations in 16 states, but pointed out that in an operational environment, the command would be just as dispersed.
"I love this unit's mission. It's tough having all the units spread across the United States," he said. "But one of the principles of training is to train as you fight."
Graham said he joined the Army in 1987 so he could earn money to go to college, and his priorities changed when he deployed for Operation Desert Storm and learned "what it was all about." Shortly after the 100-hour war, he was driving into the center of Kuwait City when large numbers of Kuwaitis approached his convoy, waving American flags and thanking the Soldiers for freeing them.
"That's when I changed," he said. "We were American Soldiers, and we gave them their freedom back. My priorities changed."
Bonner described Graham's dedication to service as public virtue, and said he knows it will continue in retirement.
"He's going to continue to serve this country in some capacity. Public virtue is the bedrock of democracy," he said. "He's done that for 31 years, and he'll continue to do it."
After emotional tributes to his wife, Melony, and daughter, Brittany, Graham closed his Army career with no regrets.
"I stand in front of you a proud American Soldier, a Dragon Soldier, a Soldier for life who gave his very best until the very end," he said. "I wouldn't change a thing."