FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- A sunny spring day with a Carolina-blue sky provided the backdrop for the change-of-responsibility ceremony for the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg senior enlisted advisor here today.

Surrounded by distinguished visitors, colleagues, friends and family, Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph R. Allen, outgoing senior enlisted advisor, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, passed the Corps colors for the last time to Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, commanding general, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, who in turn presented them to Allen's successor, Command Sgt. Maj. Earl L. Rice.

"Serving as a command sergeant major is an honor that few will have, and with only three Corps in our Army of over 550,000 active-duty Soldiers, it is an even greater honor and distinction to be the senior noncommissioned officer in one of those Corps," said Helmick.

Allen, who has been a command sergeant major for 15 of his 35 years in the Army, has spent most of his adult life here at Fort Bragg as a part of the XVIII Airborne Corps.
"I've been jumping out of planes here since the 70s and this is all I wanted to do," said Allen. "If I had the chance to change anything about my time spent at Fort Bragg, I wouldn't change a thing."

"I can't believe I am standing here already speaking to all of you," said Allen. "These past four years that I have been the Corps command sergeant major seem to have flown by. It may have gone by fast, but this has been the most rewarding four years of my entire career."

Allen's next assignment has not been released.

Rice, an infantryman, who was most recently the senior enlisted advisor for the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, Ga., is returning back to Fort Bragg, where he served before as a command sergeant major before.

"Command Sgt. Maj. Rice is a perfect fit for the XVIII Airborne Corps and I can think of no finer Paratrooper to lead the way in standards, professionalism, and excellence," said Helmick. "He has my trust and confidence, and I know one thing . . . he will make sure the Soldiers, the NCOs, and their Families remain a priority in all we do."

Rice, who is a North Carolina native, has served in a number of positions in the 82nd Airborne Division, and is no stranger to Ardennes, or Green Ramp, or the XVIII Airborne. Earlier in his career here, he was selected as the both the 82nd Airborne Division and XVIII Airborne Corps noncommissioned officer of the year.

"I look forward to the great challenges ahead of this Corps," said Rice. "I appreciate the chance to be part of an awesome team and will continue to serve and lead the way for our nation's 911 missions."
With the National colors being steadfastly held by the color guard, unit flags flapping in the wind and the beat of the band's drum, Fort Bragg begins another chapter in its history.