After more than 30 years of service, Command Sgt. Maj. Jerry Cowart, Jr. bid farewell during his retirement ceremony, held at Fort Rucker, June 24.
Cowart retired from his position as the command sergeant major for AMCOM’s Aviation Center Logistics Command, based at Fort Rucker, a position he’s held for the past two years.
ACLC provides full-spectrum maintenance, supply and contractor oversight in order to ensure availability for all Aviation training mission requirements in support of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Rucker and Fort Benning, Georgia. The command resources and cares for the Army’s training base, under the U.S. Army’s centers of excellence for Aviation, Fires and Maneuver, as well as the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, ensuring that instructors and students have the equipment needed for their respective programs of instruction.
As the ACLC sergeant major, Cowart served as the principle advisor to the commander on all matters that impacted the ACLC mission. He ensured the care of every ACLC Soldier, Department of the Army civilian and contractor in the command, and effectively communicated the organization’s vision and purpose to all ACLC personnel.
“The Aviation Center Logistics Command is responsible for the material readiness and resourcing that impacts more than half of the Army’s Soldiers who attend Initial-Entry and graduate-level coursework,” Cowart said.
Cowart has been a well-known figure in Army Aviation, even though he started his career as plumber/pipefitter in the Army Reserve.
“I joined the Army Reserve to learn a skill and so that I could go to college,” he said. Cowart attended Georgia Southern University, working toward a degree in Criminal Justice, but when he made plans to start a family of his own, he decided to join the family business.
Cowart said that he has been part of the Army since his birth and knew the Army would provide him with opportunities unlike any other occupation.
“I can trace [back all] the men in our family who served in the military,” Cowart said. “My dad was a young Soldier serving on active duty when I was born. I have lived at duty stations around the world, attended Department of Defense Dependent Schools. And, when I joined the Army, my dad swore me in at the Jacksonville [Florida Military] Entrance Processing Station.”
During his career, Cowart served in every leadership position from squad leader to command sergeant major. He has served at duty stations around the world, including Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Eustis, Virginia; Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia; Fort Knox, Kentucky; Fort Bliss, Texas; Camp Humphreys, Camp Page and Camp Eagle, Korea, as well as deploying several times to Iraq and Afghanistan. His most memorable experience was providing humanitarian assistance along the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“I was assigned to a FEMA sector, determining displaced families’ needs for temporary housing,” Cowart said. “That was a very rewarding mission and those Americans were the most grateful people I ever encountered while serving in uniform.”
Cowart attributes his success in the Army to his father.
“He was the example I tried to follow over the entirety of my service,” Cowart said. “During difficult or challenging times, I would ask myself, ‘What would Dad do?’ He guided me throughout my Army career and was there every time I needed advice or guidance.”
Now at the end of his career, Cowart reflected on the November day in 1987 when his father swore him into the Army, two years before his father’s retirement. Now, 33 years later, Cowart reflects on his own career, what he tried to achieve and what he will miss the most.
“During my career, I simply wanted to work alongside a team of professionals,” Cowart said. “The Army continued to offer me opportunities to lead and train Soldiers. It became a passion and rewarding challenge every day. I strived to leave each assignment better than I found it. And, I hoped that I helped the Soldiers I served with become better warfighters.”
Cowart plans to stay in the Dothan, Alabama, area and is making his family his top priority.
“My family sacrificed so I could reach my goals. It’s time that I dedicate a greater part of my time to my family,” Cowart said. “We have a simple goal of slowing down and doing more of what we want to do.”
Cowart reflected on his career, and decided that there were few things he would do differently. But, he admitted he’ll miss “the great people from various backgrounds and experiences.”
“I’m going to miss those Soldiers who worked hard and found purpose in their service,” he said. “Very few things in our Army are completed or done alone, so I will miss being part of the greatest team on the planet. The people you meet in the Army. There are no better lifelong friends than those you have served with as Soldiers.
“The Army provided my family and me with a secure way of life. I’m eternally grateful for the opportunities it afforded me. I will certainly miss the many Soldiers whose paths I crossed while we served this great nation.”