FORT CARSON, Colo. -- The highest ranking noncommissioned officer in a brigade, the command sergeant major, serves as the final authority on standards and discipline for the Soldiers under his leadership but this is just the beginning of his responsibilities.
The 1st Space Brigade’s new command sergeant major said it is a tough job, but he works hard to develop, mentor and coach all of his Soldiers.
“I put a lot of heart and effort into every assignment,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Kelly M. Hart, who joined the brigade in July. “If you just change one Soldier’s life, then you know you’ve done your job.”
Hart, 43, grew up in McConnelsville, Ohio, and after being disillusioned following a year of junior college and delivering pizzas, he joined the Army in 1996 and enlisted as an M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle crew member after his recruiter showed him a video of what the tracked vehicle did. He did not know what he was getting into, but he said his time in a Bradley while serving in air defense artillery units turned out to be a fond experience.
“Those first eight years were awesome,” Hart said. “The camaraderie was amazing. We would go into the field, shoot gunnery, and then have wrestling matches afterward. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.”
Other highlights from his early military career include getting stationed at Fort Carson for the first time in 1999. During this assignment, he fell in love with Colorado and with his soon-to-be wife, Jennifer, whom he will be celebrating his 20th wedding anniversary this month.
During Hart’s second enlistment, he deployed to Iraq in 2003 as a Bradley commander. The deployment was marked by long hours and days; he said it was one of the most trying years of his life, but also one of the most rewarding.
“Some of my greatest friends to this day are the people that I shed a lot of blood, sweat, and tears with during that deployment,” Hart said. “I still keep in contact with a lot of those guys.”
Hart has also deployed to Bosnia, Afghanistan and twice to Qatar.
Despite how much he loves the Army, he said he almost got out after his first enlistment. Interacting with Soldiers is what has kept him around after all these years.
“Getting to speak with Soldiers on a day-to-day basis, stressing the importance of how much value the military can have in their lives as it has had in mine – that is why I serve,” Hart said. “There is a lot of misperceptions about the Army. Some people don’t understand the opportunities it presents. It is my job as the senior enlisted adviser to help Soldiers make the most out of their commitment.”
Besides his commitment to the Army, Hart is a dedicated family man, with a 19-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son.
“Be involved, be engaged, and be present,” he said. “Be a presence in the present. Some people are there, but they are not present. If you have presence in the present, it is a step up.”
He enjoys hiking with his family, golfing and listening to music. His favorite band, Pearl Jam, has persevered to survive more than 30 years. He said he likes how they fought through adversity and tough times to continue releasing albums.
Hart said he will help create the next batch of leaders for the brigade and the Army as a whole and stressed the importance of strong leadership in doing so.
“I will try my best to mentor, develop and create leaders for the next generation of Soldiers,” he said. “As the brigade command sergeant major, I feel, with all of my heart, it is my job to teach and develop them in how to take care of their own. At the end of the day, it’s the Soldiers next to you who matter most.”