CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Dec. 17, 2020) – U.S. Army Garrison Japan welcomed Command Sgt. Maj. Justin E. Turner as the garrison’s new command sergeant major during an assumption of responsibility ceremony here Dec. 17.
Col. Thomas Matelski, commander of USAG Japan, said Turner has already done an excellent job of learning about his new job and Japan since he arrived.
“You’ve been very willing to jump into things from the start,” Matelski said. “… I have no doubt that you’re going to do a great job here. You’re joining a top-notch organization, a great garrison family.”
Turner said he looks forward to serving with Matelski.
“I plan to provide positive mentorship, guidance for the officers, noncommissioned officers, Soldiers, civilians and the family members of this organization, along with enabling quality-based support to the community,” Turner said.
Turner comes to Camp Zama from Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, III Corps, Fort Hood, Texas, where he served as the command sergeant major and deployed to Iraq.
During the ceremony, held outside with a small number of socially distanced and masked guests due to COVID-19, Matelski passed the garrison colors to Turner, symbolizing the transfer of responsibility and signifying the key role of the noncommissioned officer corps as the guardians of the colors.
Afterward, Matelski assisted Turner as he drew in one eye of a Japanese Daruma doll, which has a weighted bottom so it always returns upright when it is turned over. People receive the dolls with empty eyes, and the idea is that people fill in one eye when they receive it while wishing for something, and then fill in the other eye when they receive their wish.
At Camp Zama, officials receive a Daruma doll when they arrive to signify the continuing importance of bilateral relations between USAG Japan and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. Officials usually display them in their offices.
Turner replaced Command Sgt. Maj. Billy Norman as the garrison’s command sergeant major. Norman, now the command sergeant major at U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, Germany, relinquished responsibility during a ceremony Nov. 25 at Camp Zama.
At the Dec. 17 ceremony, broadcast over Facebook, Turner said he thanked Norman for everything he did to help ensure a smooth transition to Japan for him and his family.
“I wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors and I’m certain that the Stuttgart, Germany, command will benefit tremendously from your leadership,” Turner said.
In welcome, Turner’s wife Royall received a bouquet of yellow roses during the ceremony, and his daughter Zoey, 3, a stuffed animal. The Turners also have four other daughters, Carrington, 18, Faith, 14, Alyssa, 11, and Justice, 7.
In an interview after the ceremony, Turner said his top priority as the garrison’s command sergeant major is to take care of family members, Soldiers and the work force and make sure they have safe living spaces and working conditions.
In addition, Turner said he also wants to continue to strengthen the bilateral relationship between U.S. forces and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
“It’s not only about our relationship, but our friendship, one that’s built on trust and transparency,” Turner said. “That way we can both take care of our communities.”
The Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers organization is also a big priority, Turner said, especially during COVID-19.
Turner said he wants to come up with innovative ways single Soldiers can socialize while practicing social distancing standards.
“What I want to do is make sure they’re not forgotten about, especially during this time,” Turner said.
Overall, Turner said his philosophy as the garrison’s command sergeant major is that the workforce here is a team of teams.
“In order to accomplish our mission we have to come together as a team,” Turner said. “We need to communicate effectively across our entire enterprise. We have to be competent within our duties and our positions that we hold, and at the same time, we have to have character and our values at the forefront of everything that we do.”