By Jason Cutshaw (SMDC/ARSTRAT)March 23, 2019
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - Members of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command welcomed a new command sergeant major and bid a fond farewell to a Soldier, leader and friend.
Soldiers and civilians in six nations, eight time zones and 17 video teleconference sites witnessed Command Sgt. Maj. Finis A. Dodson become the command's 12th command sergeant major when he assumed the top-level noncommissioned officer responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Jerome Wiggins March 22.
Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, USASMDC/ARSTRAT commanding general, thanked Wiggins for his 35 years of service in the Army and for his partnership in the command team for SMDC.
"Command Sgt. Maj. Wiggins arrived here in the command and he was an immeasurably important presence on Lt. Gen. David Mann's team as well as on my team, and I was very fortunate to have you here when I got here," Dickinson said. "He has taken the command to a different level and made it more lethal and more professional. He has brought senior enlisted leadership into this command that is desperately needed in terms of making sure that we are mentoring our Soldiers and our NCOs, and that was all the result of the hard work Command Sgt. Maj. Wiggins did.
"The role of the command sergeant major at this command is a very challenging one, not only because of our large and geographically dispersed workforce which includes more than 1,500 enlisted Soldiers, but because of the demands I put on my command sergeant major," he continued. "Command Sgt. Maj. Wiggins has met all of my expectations and has delivered to me the loyalty and sacrifice that goes along with mission. As I read through the NCO Creed, you can put his name in every sentence.
"Sergeant Major, you carried out your duties exceptionally well without regard for the demands upon yourself and I could always rely on you as my senior enlisted leader and mentor to our Soldiers," Dickinson added. "For everything you have done to ensure we are always mission ready, you have my sincere gratitude and appreciation. Be assured that your contributions to this command was absolutely second to none. Thank you so much from the Soldiers, NCOs, officers, warrant officers and our great civilian workforce for all you have done for this command. There is no doubt your legacy will live for many years, not only within this command, but in the Army itself."
Wiggins became SMDC's senior enlisted adviser in May 2015. During the ceremony, he thanked everyone in the command and talked about the uniqueness of the command and serving with Soldiers throughout his career.
"It's a wonderful day to be a Soldier," Wiggins said. "It's hard to describe the feelings and emotions of this day, but the days and weeks leading up to today have been a time of reflection and introspection. It's easy when attending an event like this to casually let the phrase pass when a Soldier says they are 'humbled and honored,' but actually no two words better capture all that I am feeling today.
"In our profession, leaders are expected to uphold the greatest trust that can be given by a nation, the responsibility for the lives of the Soldiers they lead," he continued. "Competence, empathy, devotion and commitment to our Soldiers and their families are not only expected but necessary for our Army to be effective.
"To all the Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians, contractors and civic leaders here, it's been good these past four years and I'm grateful to have served alongside you," Wiggins added. "The Army has been everything to me: my therapy, my joy, my solace and sometimes even my enemy. I've learned to love every facet of the Army, from the peak of accomplishment to the gutter of criticism."
He thanked his wife, Lachelle, and those who supported him during his time in the Army and talked about what the Army and his family have meant to him.
"My amazing family and close friends who bore the awful weight and did the truly heavy lifting in supporting me, without you none of this would have been possible, so thank you," Wiggins said. "Lachelle, it's because of this remarkable path to serve as a Soldier I met and married my soulmate. You have kept me straight, been my best friend, toughest critic and staunchest supporter.
"Please know as I take off this uniform for the last time I have always obeyed General Order #1, 'I will guard my post and quit my post only when properly relieved,'" he added. "Please know that I have properly been relieved."
During the change of responsibility, Dickinson passed the command's colors to Dodson, entrusting him as SMDC's newest senior enlisted adviser.
"This is a great day for the command and a great day for our Army," Dickinson said. "Command Sgt. Maj. Finis Dodson takes on the senior enlisted responsibility on my leadership team. We welcome him and his wonderful family. It is great to have you here."
Dodson, a native of Olive Branch, Mississippi, enlisted in the Army in November 1987 and has served in various locations such as Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Bliss and Fort Hood, Texas; Germany; Korea; and Japan; among others.
He thanked Dickinson for the opportunity to serve in the command and thanked Wiggins for his assistance as he prepared to come on board the command.
"Sir, thank for your trust and confidence in my abilities as the 12th SMDC/ARSTRAT command sergeant major," Dodson said. "I look forward to doing my best to complement the command team to ensure the continued success and readiness of the command in all areas.
"It's an absolute honor to assume this position of responsibility from CSM Wiggins as he culminates his distinguished 35 years of faithful military service to our nation," he added. "What many don't know is that this is the fourth time over our military careers that I have assumed responsibility from him.
Dodson said he was proud to be a part of the SMDC team and looks forward to what the future holds.
"My family and I are truly humbled by this opportunity to continue serving our nation by ensuring our responsibility and accountability toward the command's strategic mission of providing space and missile defense forces and capabilities to protect the Army, joint force, our allies, partners and the nation," Dodson said. "The mission is truly critical and humbling and reflective of the motto 'Secure the High Ground.'
"I look forward to working closely with our team of Soldiers, civilians and government contractors," he added. "My family and I look forward to integrating into the command, Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville and the surrounding Tennessee Valley communities."