ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Command Sgt. Maj. James E. Spencer accepted responsibility for "good order and discipline among the troops" of Army Sustainment Command during a Jan. 18 ceremony here.

Spencer takes over from Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen D. Blake, who is retiring.

Maj. Gen. Patricia E. McQuistion, ASC commanding general, presided over the event, during which an NCO sword was passed from Blake to Spencer. According to Army lore, the sword serves as a visual reminder of the power, strength and fidelity of the position it represents.

A native of Humboldt, Tenn., Spencer began his Army career in 1986. Since then, he has risen through the ranks to become the senior NCO of a global command with more than 500 Soldiers, nearly 2,000 Department of the Army civilian employees and some 65,000 contractors.

His assignments have taken him to Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas and Germany, including his most recent assignment at the 21st Theater Sustainment Command. Among his professional training are the basic Airborne and Air Assault courses, Warrior Leader Course, Battle Staff Course and the Army Sergeants Major Academy.

Among Spencer's decorations are two Bronze Star Medals, two Southwest Asia Service Medals, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and three Iraq Campaign Medals. He is a Master Parachutist, who also holds parachute badges from Honduras, Germany and Australia. He holds the Combat Action Badge and is a member of the Honorable Order of Saint Martin.

Spencer's academic credentials include a bachelor's degree in management and human resources from Park University and a master's in project management from Columbia Southern University.

Blake concludes a 30-year career, during which he held a variety of enlisted leadership positions, culminating with his June 2008 appointment as ASC's top NCO. He served much of his career with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), during which he was made a Distinguished Member of the 3rd Brigade, 187th Infantry Regiment (Rakkasans).

In a retirement ceremony immediately following the change of responsibility, McQuistion decorated Blake with the Distinguished Service Medal. His other decorations include the Legion of Merit, three Bronze Star Medals, four Southwest Asia Service Medals and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. He wears the Air Assault Badge and is a member of the Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe.

Blake's wife, Karen, was also honored for her steadfast service to the Army Family and unfailing support of her husband.