SAN ANTONIO -- Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Rice will join the U.S. Army Installation Management Command as the highest-ranking noncommissioned officer Friday, March 9, in a ceremony at Fort Sam Houston.

Rice has served the Army since 1981, most recently as command sergeant major for XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg. He will be assuming responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Donald Felt, who has served as the interim command sergeant major for IMCOM since November 2011. Felt will continue to serve as command sergeant major for the IMCOM Central region.

As Rice joins the IMCOM command group, he reunites with familiar faces. As command sergeant major for the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, Rice served under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter, now the commanding general of IMCOM.

"It's truly awesome," said Rice. "I know without a doubt we have an awe-inspiring leader who everything that he does is thinking about our Soldiers, our Families and our Army mission. He lives it every day 24/7."

Throughout his career, Rice has held numerous command sergeant major positions, including XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg; Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning; and the U.S. Army Infantry Center and Fort Benning. In 1991, he was selected as the 82nd Airborne Division and the XVIII Airborne Corps Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

"Number one," said Rice, "I'm a Soldier and I'm proud to be a Soldier. I give it my best every single day."

Drawing from those experiences, Rice plans to maintain a strong connection with garrison leadership while working to standardize services to Soldiers and Families.

"I know what's made us successful at these places that I've been," he said. "It's wrapping our arms around our garrison teams and understanding their focus and how engaged they are with the mission. It's one of those things where you've got to be there and you've got to provide the support."

"[Looking ahead, it's about] keeping our team focused on making sure that we're doing the right thing by our Soldiers and Family programs," said Rice. "And [that] we have the right assistance on the home front that allows our Soldiers to give their all."

"We can't forget why we come to work every day," said Rice.