By Kurt E. Van Slooten, 501st Military Intelligence Brigade PAODecember 15, 2019
USAG HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- The 501st Military Intelligence Brigade bade farewell to Command Sgt. Maj. Kristen Grover as she relinquished responsibility to Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Martino, during a ceremony at Zoeckler Gym, Dec. 9.
Col. Jamie Walsh, commander, 501st Military Intelligence Brigade, presided over the event attended by Eighth Army and Republic of Korea Army Soldiers and leaders to witness the symbolic passing of the brigade colors to the new Command Sergeant Major.
Throughout history, military units have been symbolized by the colors under which they fight. The colors represent both the lineage and honors of the units, as well as the loyalty and unity of its Soldiers. As the senior enlisted Soldier in the brigade and principal adviser to the commander, the brigade Command Sergeant Major serves as the historic custodian of the colors.
While addressing the audience, Walsh said, "In 1986, Lt. Gen. Wetzel set what I consider to be the definition of the modern sergeant major, when he was asked how he had used his sergeants major in Korea and in Vietnam. The same way, he said that I use them in peacetime to show the way. He continued, saying I expect the sergeant major to be at or near the point of decision at critical times, and to provide me as the commander with an unbiased assessment. I can say nothing less for what Command Sgt. Maj. Grover has done for me and for our formation."
After 30 months of dedicated service to the brigade, Grover passed the brigade colors to Walsh, relinquishing her responsibility as the brigade's Command Sergeant Major. Among her accomplishments during her tenure, Grover was instrumental in increasing the brigade's battle-ready posture during a time of increased tensions with North Korea in 2017. She also oversaw the monumental task of moving the brigade from U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan to Camp Humphreys.
"Sergeant major, on behalf of everyone here, thank you for everything that you have done for the brigade's mission, and more importantly, our Soldiers and families," said Walsh. "You have overseen extraordinary improvements in our readiness and our ability to provide the intelligence information essential to maintaining peace in Korea. Few leaders depart in assignment with such clearly evident impact."
Grover, in her closing comments said, "I've never worked with such a mature, experienced and talented group of officers, NCOs, ROKs, Soldiers, KATUSAs (Korean Augmentation to the United States Army) and Civilians. It's been a pleasure. This Army is small and good byes are so final. So until we meet again."
Grover, a native of Clearlake, California, will go on to be the military intelligence career management, field branch manager for sergeants major at U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Newly installed, Command Sgt. Maj. Martino, a native of Plattsburgh, N.Y., comes to the 501st MIB from another overseas assignment as the 307th Military Intelligence Battalion Command Sergeant Major in Vicenza, Italy.
In his first address to the brigade, Martino said, "This team is known as a premier Army intelligence brigade for many reasons. Your steadfast commitment to excellence ensures regional and global security on a daily basis. Your cooperation with our amazing ROK partners is unparalleled, making us a truly unified intelligence team."
Martino wished Grover well in her new assignment and said he looks forward to training hard with the brigade.
The 501st Military Intelligence Brigade provides indications and early warning of actions by opposing forces that could threaten the tense but stable peace in the Republic of Korea. In the event of hostilities, the brigade's mission shifts to providing combined, multi-discipline intelligence and force protection support to the United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command, the CFC Ground Component Command and their subordinate units.