Reflections from First African American SGM to Army G-4

By Army G-4February 12, 2021

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

“We had to overachieve,” said SGM (R) Eric W. Fullford, the first African American Sergeant Major to Army G-4, when asked to reflect on his Army career where he started out as an E1 Private in 1975.

SGM (R) Fullford was candid in explaining his time in the Army when reached by phone.

“There were definitely barriers for African Americans in the Army during the time I was in,” said Fullford who served for 30 years (1975-2005). “My goal was to become an E5 Sergeant, and when I made that grade, I just kept moving forward and working hard. But, you couldn’t just pass your courses, as an African American. We had to overachieve and do better than our white counterparts, and that’s how I ended up making the grade of E9 Sergeant Major.”

When SGM (R) Fullford’s military service officially ended in 2005, he turned in his military uniform for a business suit but continued to serve the Army as a civilian. Today, he is a logistics management specialist working at the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) at Fort Belvoir.

“To this day, I just keep working hard and moving forward,” said SGM (R) Fullford. “You can’t rest on your laurels and expect to get places.”


We asked SGM (R) Fullford to answer a few questions in writing. Below are the questions posed and the answers provided by SGM (R) Fullford, which have been lightly edited for clarity.

1. Which Army G-4 Deputy Chief of Staff did you serve alongside of during your time as the Senior Enlisted Officer at Army G-4?

I served under two G-4 Deputy Chiefs of Staff from 2002-2005 – LTG Charles S. Mahan and LTG Claude V. Christianson.

2. What major achievements unfolded during your time at Army G-4? Or phrased differently, what are you most proud of that occurred during your time at Army G-4?

Some of the major achievements that unfolded during my tenure at Army G-4 include:

  • Both Army G-4 DCSs – LTG Mahan and LTG Christianson – pushed and enhanced the Army logistics capabilities for distribution and redistribution of equipment and supplies to the modular force, OCONUS, deployed and CONUS. The intent was to establish robust logistical capability throughout the Enterprise. 
  • I was a part of the Army uniform change in 2004, which involved transitioning from the Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU) to the Army Combat Uniform (ACU). 
  • One of my proudest achievements was to host the 1st Worldwide Senior Enlisted Logistics Conference where all Senior Enlisted NCOs from all Army Commands, as well as other service branches, were invited to participate. The conference was held in at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL, and it was a major success for all who participated.

3. What are the highlights of your career in the Army?

When I think back on my career, there are three main highlights:

  1. Selection for and service with the President's Ceremonial Honor Guard, 3rd United States Infantry "The Old Guard" Hotel Company, at Fort Myer, Virginia.
  2. Deployment to support Operation Desert Shield/Storm during the Gulf War.
  3. Selection by Sergeant Major of the Army Jack L. Tilley to be the SGM to Army G-4 Deputy Chief of Staff.

4. Can you explain how the Army G-4 was involved in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars following the September 11, 2001 attacks?

The Army G-4 was involved in supporting both Wars by producing and publishing policies and procedures that guided the movement and transportation of classes of supplies and equipment. We designed the policies to ensure that the logistics enterprise was robust and rapid in supporting the warfighters and DOD Civilians involved in executing the war on the battlefields.

5. What advice would you give to today's Soldiers?

Get your education because no one can take that away from you. Stay focused. And, to all the NCOs, get back to taking care of your Soldiers.