‘One great soldier steps aside’ 


Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmie W. Spencer, USA, Ret.
Director, Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier Programs

During a ceremony held in March at the Pentagon, the 13th sergeant major of the Army, Kenneth O. Preston, passed the torch to his replacement, Raymond F. Chandler.

This is in keeping with Army tradition. One great soldier steps aside and another steps forward to take his place. That’s how we do it; that’s the strength of America’s Army.

But in this case the 14th sergeant major of the Army has some big shoes to fill.

Kenneth O. Preston has served for seven plus years as a member of the Army leadership team. That’s just short of two full terms and that makes him by far our longest serving SMA – and this was accomplished while America’s Army was at war.

He has done a magnificent job.

During his tour of duty as the SMA, he has travelled the world many times over visiting soldiers and family members.

Everywhere we have soldiers stationed, no matter how far from home, no matter how remote and no matter how dangerous, he was there. He was there looking into their eyes, sharing their hardships and providing inspiration.

Preston has helped bring our Army and the NCO Corps into the 21st century by putting in place improvements in everything from the uniform we wear to how we train and educate our NCOs.

His fingerprints are on this generation and his positive impact on America’s Army will be felt far into the future.

Preston’s legacy will be that he inherited a world class Army NCO Corps and made it better. And he has mentored, trained and inspired countless soldiers and family members.

That’s how he will be remembered. He left it better than he found it and that is high praise indeed.

One of Preston’s lieutenants during most of his time as sergeant major of the Army has been Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond Chandler.

As the first noncommissioned officer to serve as the commandant of the Sergeants Major Academy, he has helped create, improve and implement many of the innovations in the noncommissioned officer educational systems.

Chandler was selected to be the sergeant major of the Army from among our Army’s best and brightest senior NCOs.

NCOs are the backbone of America’s Army.

All of us at AUSA join in congratulating Chandler. He is in my opinion the right man at the right time to lead our NCO Corps during the challenging times ahead.

It is true that Ray Chandler has big shoes to fill; the good news is he is more than qualified to fill them.

Still Serving!