Combined Arms Center-Training hosted a retirement ceremony for the organization’s senior enlisted advisor, Sgt. Maj. Thomas Conn, July 29, 2022 at the Pioneer Chapel on Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Because Conn served as a Command Sgt. Maj. in previous assignments, he retired with that rank.
Conn entered the Army in March 1994 from Waterloo, Iowa. His service spanned more than 28 years and included two deployments to Afghanistan, three deployments to Iraq as well as tours in Bosnia and Macedonia.
Col. Michael Kovacevic, Executive Officer to the Director of the Army Staff, traveled from the D.C. area to preside over the ceremony. Conn was the command sergeant major for the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team when Kovacevic commanded the unit.
“I had never served in the 101st before,” Kovacevic said. “He (Conn) was my guide and showed me every single day through his personal example what it took and meant to be a Screaming Eagles Soldier.”
Kovacevic said that he couldn’t have asked to be paired with a better non-commissioned officer and that he cherished the teamwork, mentorship, friendship and countless stories that Conn has given him.
“As we recognize that 28 years of commitment and service of sergeant major Conn today, it is truly fitting to have this ceremony here at Fort Leavenworth Kansas - a location not only strategically pivotal to our history as a nation, but also home to the Combined Arms Center,” Kovacevic said. “This final assignment at CAC-T, in the career of such an accomplished non-commissioned officer, provided the army the opportunity to harvest that immense depth of experience and knowledge from one of our very best.”
Conn has served as the CAC-T senior enlisted advisor since December 2020. CAC-T Deputy Ed Bohnemann took a few moments to thank Conn for his time at CAC-T and especially for his work with the Training Management Division’s Digital Job Book and Small Unit Leader Tool.
“You have made a lasting impact,” Bohnemann said. “Not only on the Soldiers here at Fort Leavenworth, but really across the Army.”
Conn began his remarks recognizing his wife for her support over the years. He said although the ceremony signifies the end of his career, it is also about giving thanks to those who helped him be successful throughout his career. He said that the speeches he made at all the changes of responsibility during his career always ended with him thanking his wife Kathie.
“Today, Instead of waiting to the end, I think it is more appropriate to begin with her,” Conn said. “After all, this is just as much her retirement as it is mine.”
Conn also thanked his parents and other friends and family who were in attendance either in person or watching online via Facebook Live.
“I don’t have some extraordinary story as to why I joined the Army,” Conn said. “I came from a loving family, my parents taught me long before I joined the Army how to be a good person, and just as important, how to be a hard worker.”
Conn said even with that good foundation, when he joined the Army at the age of 26, he was lost. He said he originally joined the Army to pay off his student loans.
“Although this got me in the door, I quickly learned that what I really needed was structure, discipline and a purpose,” Conn said. “The Army gave me that ten-fold.”