FORT STEWART, Ga. -- Command Sgt. Maj. Jaime Lopez’s brows furled as his eyes focused on the staff being passed amongst the three men. Attached at the top hung a crimson and blue flag with yellow fringe. Called the brigades’ “colors,” the flag stands as a physical representation of the 2nd Armor Brigade Combat Team’s identity and affiliation. In a two-step energetic motion, outgoing Command Sgt. Maj. Jabari O. L. Williams passed the staff to Col. Terry Tillis. Tillis then snapped his arms in, turned his body, and thrust his arms out again, offering the staff to the waiting hands of Lopez, the incoming command sergeant major and his new senior-most enlisted advisor. For Williams, this relinquishment of the colors signified his walk into the sunset. For Lopez, it was acceptance of the burden of responsibility and authority.
In the sparsely populated gymnasium on Fort Stewart, Georgia, close friends and family in masks sat six-feet apart, but witnessed the significant moment. Much like the heavy clouds surrounding the building on Jan. 22nd, COVID-19 restrictions hung over this milestone and forced all other viewers to watch online. However, in spite of the rain and pandemic protocols, no one seemed heavy-hearted. The 2nd ABCT, 3rd Infantry Division Spartans farewelled Williams and welcomed Lopez as its senior enlisted advisor the way they always had before, with the ceremonial passing of the colors.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Lopez has a tremendous reputation that precedes him, and we know he is the right senior noncommissioned officer to serve as Spartan 7,” said Tillis. “I’m excited to serve with him and trust he will execute the duties of the brigade Command Sgt. Maj. as we navigate our way through re-arming the formation, modernization, and preparing the brigade to achieve a high level of operational readiness preparing the brigade to deploy to answer our nation's call.”
Lopez, a native of Las Vegas, Nevada, graduated from Moapa Valley High School in 1999. He enlisted in the Army as a construction engineer, a decision heavily influenced by his father-in-law, Alan Marshall. Marshall owned a construction company and employed Lopez throughout his adolescence. Lopez planned to gain some experience from the Army, then return to the construction company after a couple of years, but as time went on, his plans changed.
Lopez completed initial entry training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, as an engineer Soldier. He served with the 84th Engineer Battalion, at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, where he was a team and squad leader.
From there, he went on to the Operations Group at the National Training Center in Irwin, California where he honed his abilities as a trainer of Soldiers. The National Training Center trains rotational training units, joint, interagency and multinational partners to build and sustain readiness to fight and win, while simultaneously caring for Soldiers, civilians, and Family members. After working for the combat training center, Lopez returned to Fort Leonard Wood after being selected to be a drill sergeant and trained more than 7,000 Soldiers in a span of two years.
As a platoon sergeant, Lopez deployed for 15 months in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom VII in 2007. As a first sergeant, he deployed to Northern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2013. Finally, as a command sergeant major, he deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield in 2017 to build partner capacity in the Middle East, promote security, enhance readiness, and strengthen the ability to rapidly respond.
The 3rd Infantry Division command team welcomed Lopez’s arrival with high hopes for his impact on the organization and lives of his Soldiers.
“His valuable experience and the energy Command Sgt. Maj. Lopez brings to his duties will be embraced in the organization,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Quentin Fenderson, the division senior enlisted advisor.
Lopez said he’s eager to serve in such a prestigious brigade and encourages his Spartan Soldiers to use him as a resource. He said his goal is to help Soldiers have a plan for their futures no matter the circumstances or background. He said he believes that by taking care of Soldiers and their Families they will increase the unit’s ability to succeed as a whole.
“I first want to congratulate the Spartan brigade on a job well-done throughout its deployment to Europe,” Lopez said. “I look forward to helping Soldiers and their Families reintegrate back into their daily duties and garrison operations at Fort Stewart. That’s my main priority.”
Lopez also said he wanted his Soldiers to know he’s an advocate for them, that he lives by the Army values every day, treats everyone with dignity and respect, and that he and his Family are here to support them.
“I’m most looking forward to just being a Dog Face Soldier. Rock of the Marne!”