FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers, commanders, senior noncommissioned officers and top civilian leaders of the Fort Drum workforce said goodbye this week to the garrison's senior enlisted leader while welcoming a new one.
Command Sgt. Maj. John H. Oldroyd assumed his new post as garrison command sergeant major from Command Sgt. Maj. John F. McNeirney during a change of responsibility ceremony Tuesday at Magrath Sports Complex.
McNeirney is scheduled to become the U.S. Army Military Police School command sergeant major / Military Police Corps regimental command sergeant major at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., next week.
In his most recent assignment, Oldroyd served as command sergeant major of 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. He has been based at Fort Drum for the past four years.
Among the many guests in attendance were McNeirney's wife, Violet, and sons, John and James, as well as Oldroyd's wife, Karen, and daughters, Tessa and Taylor.
After the noncommissioned sword passed from McNeirney to Oldroyd, signifying the relinquishing of responsibility and authority from the outgoing garrison command sergeant major to the new one, Fort Drum's garrison commander offered some remarks.
Col. Noel T. Nicolle said McNeirney was more than just a senior enlisted adviser; he was a confidant and friend. He also called him a consummate professional who was a gift to Fort Drum.
"The Army has recognized this, which is why he is moving on to be the regimental command sergeant major for the MP Corps," the colonel noted.
Nicolle said as McNeirney readies to become the most senior enlisted MP in the Army, the thing he will always remember about the man is his "superb intellect."
"He was wicked smart," Nicolle said. "He could piece these various regulations and policies together into coherent, logical (terms). It was absolutely amazing. I've never seen anything like it."
Finding out McNeirney has a photographic memory helped to explain a lot, Nicolle said. "But regardless of how John McNeirney does it, he does it. The results are the same -- always excellence.
"We are saddened by his departure," Nicolle concluded. "But our loss is a gain for the entire U.S. Army. It would be selfish for us to not be joyous over his new (assignment)."
McNeirney spoke next during the ceremony. He praised the garrison workforce, crediting Army civilians for making "this organization and this installation so successful."
"They are dedicated professionals," McNeirney said. "Every day, they get up early, stay late, work long hours and weekends … and accomplish their mission of providing for the readiness of our Soldiers and the welfare of their Families and civilians on our installation.
"They come to work every day committed to the success of Fort Drum and the North Country for the long term," he said. "Garrison commanders and command sergeants major may come and go. But continuity (remains).
"They are an Army community of excellence."
McNeirney, who began his Army career as a military policeman more than 25 years ago, served as 91st Military Police Battalion command sergeant major before assuming his garrison leadership role at Fort Drum in March 2010, the year for which the installation won the silver award in the Army Communities of Excellence competition.
Fort Drum has become known to many Soldiers, Families and civilians as an excellent place to live and work, especially because of the support they find on post and the surrounding communities.
McNeirney, who said his Family has become so established in the community that "it feels like home," took time to acknowledge that strong community support, and even called it unique.
"To our great North Country community -- thank you," he said. "You are a great community that has keenly supported all the Soldiers and Families of Fort Drum. I can honestly say, in almost 26 years of service, that I have not experienced a better community."
McNeirney also took a moment to wish his successor well.
"You will find you have assumed responsibility for a great organization," he told Oldroyd. "They will not let you down. (They) will impress you with their successes on a daily basis -- beyond anything you've experienced in your past.
"Enjoy your time in this position," he added. "I will tell you, it will pass too quickly."
Oldroyd stood at the lectern next. He said in visiting with employees at various directorates on post, he has been inspired by the passion everyone has for what they do. He said he looked forward to serving under Installation Management Command in supporting the post's Soldiers, Families and civilians.
"If you look closely at each Soldier's shoulder sleeve insignia … you will see the shadow of the IMCOM badge behind it … (which) proudly supports war- fighters and their Families," Oldroyd said.
Oldroyd began his Army career in 1985 as a cavalry scout. He is a combat veteran of Operations Desert Storm, Joint Forge and Iraqi Freedom. His Army experiences range from gunner, section leader and platoon sergeant to recruiter and military science instructor at Arizona State University.
"Fort Drum," Oldroyd said, "you have me 24/7."