Thursday, April 25, 2013

Change of Responsibility

Yesterday was a big day for my husband and for our family.  Darrell was laterally promoted from Master Sergeant (MSG) to First Sergeant (1SG) and took responsibility for Charlie Company, 1-27 Infantry Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

From this:

To this:  

This is a big deal.  For enlisted Soldiers, the position of First Sergeant is "it" - the guy in charge (or as his company commander put it, the HMFIC).  Rather than have me try to explain it, here are a couple of "blurbs" written by those in the know:
FIRST SERGEANT (1SG) - Principal NCO and life blood of the company.  Provider, disciplinarian and wise counselor.
If the NCOs are the backbone of the armed forces, then the First Sergeant is the heart and soul.  No other enlisted person carries near the responsibility and authority of the First Sergeant, no other person in the squadron or company, including the commissioned officers, possesses the First Sergeant's breath of experience, professional knowledge, or education.  A First Sergeant MUST be an unqualified expert in promotions, demotions, military law, civilian law, counseling, discipline, leave & passes, evaluations, inspections, public speaking, billeting, PCS moves, TDYs, pay problems and procedures, child and family support, bad checks, budgeting, loans, requisitions, dress and appearance, awards and decorations, unit history, parades, ceremonies, family advocacy, medical benefits and requirements, re enlistments, retirements, weight control, professional military education, ID card privileges, off limit areas, restrictions, etc.  The First Sergeant is the primary liaison with the commander on all matters concerning the enlisted corps.  He or she is the eye and ear for the commander, and the mouth for the enlisted force.
When you are talking about the First Sergeant you are talking about the life-blood of the Army.  There can be no substitute of this position, nor any question of its importance. When First Sergeants are exceptional, their units are exceptional, regardless of any other single personality involved.  It is the First Sergeant at whom almost all unit operations merge.  The First Sergeant holds formations, instructs platoon sergeants, advises the Commander, and assists in training of all enlisted members.  The First Sergeant may swagger and appear, at times, somewhat of an exhibitionist, but he is not egotistical.  The First Sergeant is proud of the unit and, understandably, wants others to be aware of his unit’s success.  For the first time, the title of address for this grade is not Sergeant, but First Sergeant.  There is a unique relationship of confidence and respect that exists between the First Sergeant and the Commander not found at another level within the Army.  He is the provider, the disciplinarian, the wise counselor, the tough and unbending foe, the confidant, the sounding board, everything that we need in a leader during our personal success or failure.
I AM A FIRST SERGEANT.  My job is people — every one is my business.  I dedicate my time and energy to their needs; their health, morale, discipline, and welfare.  I grow in strength by strengthening my people.  My job is done in faith; my people build faith.  My job is people – EVERY ONE IS MY BUSINESS.
I think you get the idea.  So, yeah, yesterday was a big deal.  The ceremony was awesome.  The downpour?  Not so much.  But hey, it just added to the memories...

The Change of Responsibility ceremony is a time honored tradition.  The Army holds the ceremony when a senior non-commissioned officer (NCO) leaves a leadership position and a new NCO takes his place.  

The narrator of the ceremony reads the histories and accomplishments of both men, who will then step into position for the change of responsibility.  

The symbol of an NCO position of responsibility is the NCO sword.  The Army says that when an NCO is transferred and a new officer replaces him, the symbol of the change and the heart of the ceremony is when the sword is passed.  

The departing First Sergeant hands the sword to the company commander, relinquishing responsibility.

The commander then passes it to the incoming First Sergeant, transferring the duties of the position.

The speeches follow – the company commander,

the outgoing First Sergeant, 

and then the incoming First Sergeant, after which the ceremony concludes.  

I have to take a moment to tell you how impressed I was with the Soldiers in formation.  At no time did any of them even flinch.  They were locked in tight.  Very professional, gentlemen, I commend you.  A million thanks go out to them, the MC (XO 1LT Jason Johnson), and the nice guy who loaned me his umbrella when the rain got really bad.  A million more thanks go to those in attendance in support of Darrell and 1SG Ha.  Above and beyond the call of duty...

In Hawaii tradition, leis are presented to the family members of the incoming First Sergeant:

By the end, we were all completely drenched.  Darrell ended up having a whopper of a first day (Red Cross message, called down to the MP station to bail out three Soldiers - turned out to belong to another company, etc...) and didn't get home until after 11pm.  Still not completely dried out.  It was a rough, but not surprising, welcome to the diamond.  *laugh*

I couldn't be prouder of my husband, and I'm absolutely thrilled with the commander he'll be working with.  It's going to be an awesome assignment.  Congratulations, 1SG Bosco!!