CAMP SHELBY, Miss. - Soldiers of the 158th Infantry Brigade stood on the parade field at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center March 31 to honor and say goodbye to a man they have followed since 2007: Command Sgt. Maj. Jose M. Vega.

Vega, a native of Puerto Rico, joined the Army in 1984. During his career, he served across the United States and abroad, including assignments at Fort Richardson, Alaska, and Camp Casey, Korea. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star with "V" device and one oak leaf cluster, in addition to the Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

With all of these accomplishments, Vega's boots will be hard to fill.

In his speech, Col. Thomas Hollis, 158th commander, said it was difficult to find the right words to say about such a great leader, but noted it was a blessing to have the opportunity to work with Vega. Through his career, Vega made many friends and work acquaintances.

"He is the most known man alive; no matter where we traveled we would run into a friend or acquaintance of Vega," Hollis said. "Often I would get a look from this long ago acquaintance as though to say... who is this Colonel escorting Command Sgt. Maj. Vega'"

In his closing remarks, Vega noted that the cost of freedom is high, but today's Soldiers know the cost and are willing to make the sacrifice.

"I feel good about leaving the Army in good hands," said Vega. "No other time in our history has the Army been so fortunate to have great Soldiers ready to rise to the challenge."

After thanking the Soldiers, veterans and civilians attending the event, a teary-eyed Vega signed off the net for the last time as "Warrior 7."

Taking Vega's place is Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Todd. In his short speech, Todd thanked the leadership for the opportunity, and his wife Amy for the love and support.

"I can only hope that, at the end of my career, my video will be as inspiring as Command Sgt. Maj. Vega's," Todd said.

Todd then signed on for the first time as Warrior 7.

The 158th Infantry Brigade, mobilizes trains, validates and deploys Reserve Component and National Guard units in accordance with combatant commanders, Department of the Army, U.S. Forces Command, First Army and First Army Division East directives at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Camp Shelby, Miss. The brigades mission is to prepare units for combat operations, andwhen directed by First Army Division East, they provide training oversight and support to enhance National Guard and Reserve unit readiness for wartime requirements.