MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Master Sgt. Andres Quintero-Tarazona was promoted to the rank of Command Sergeant Major and took responsibility of the Connecticut National Guard’s 6th Recruiting and Retention Battalion from outgoing Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Lavallee during a change of responsibility ceremony at the Middletown Armed Forces Reserve Center, Middletown, Connecticut, on Oct. 20, 2023.
Born in Colombia and later immigrating to the United States, Quintero-Tarazona’s promotion and new position makes him the first Hispanic soldier to hold the Command Sergeant Major position in the Battalion’s history.
A Command Sergeant Major is the senior enlisted soldier in a battalion or larger unit. They’re responsible for the morale and wellbeing of their troops, and advise the commander on all issued, both internal and external.
“I love the National Guard and I’m thankful for every opportunity the National Guard has given me,” Quintero-Tarazona said. “I’m excited and humbled by the trust of my leadership and the opportunity to be able to carry out this great responsibility.”
Quintero-Tarazona enlisted in the Connecticut Army National Guard on March 23, 2003, as an infantryman assigned to the 1-102nd Infantry Regiment and attended basic training and advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Georgia (now, Fort Moore). He would later deploy with the 1-102nd from 2006-2007 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
He is no stranger to recruiting, however. Quintero-Tarazona’s most recent assignment was as the company first sergeant for the 6th Recruiting and Retention Battalion and has experience as a section team chief, operations non-commissioned officer, and retention non-commissioned officer with the battalion. He has also earned the Expert Recruiting Badge.
Quintero-Tarazona is replacing Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Lavallee who enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 1997 as a cannon crew member assigned to Echo Battery, 7th Field Artillery, 10th Mountain Division our of Fort Drum, New York. He left active duty in 2001 and moved to Connecticut to work at Mohegan Sun casino as a pastry chef.
Lavallee enlisted in the Connecticut National Guard in 2004 as a member of the 134th Military Police Company out of Norwich but joined the Active Guard and Reserve soon after with the 6th Recruiting and Retention Battalion and was responsible for enlisting 157 personnel into the Connecticut Army National Guard through his first nine years before taking on higher leadership roles.
In his tenure as Command Sergeant Major, Connecticut has received multiple awards for excellence in recruiting, including being recognized multiple times by the National Guard Bureau as the best small state for recruiting and retention. Several of his recruiters would also achieve nationwide recognition for their recruiting efforts under his leadership.
“I am incredibly grateful to Command Sgt. Maj. Lavallee for his years of faithful, effective, and competent service in recruiting,” said Maj. Gen. Francis J. Evon, adjutant general of the Connecticut National Guard. “He has been a valued voice for insight into what is going on at the ground level in the recruiting market.”
This change of responsibility ceremony also marks the end of Lavallee’s military career as he transitions into retirement.
Quintero-Tarazona takes the reins during the most turbulent time in military recruiting since the Vietnam War, however, with the track record of success the 6th Recruiting and Retention Battalion has created over the past decade, the future looks bright for the Connecticut Army National Guard.