Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmie W. Spencer, USA, Ret., has announced he will retire from the Association of the United States Army on May 15 after serving 20 years as the Association’s director of noncommissioned officer and soldier programs.
Spencer joined the AUSA staff on Aug, 23, 1993, after retiring from the Army as the command sergeant major of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C.
AUSA officials announced that Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston, USA, Ret., the 13th Sergeant Major of the Army, will succeed Spencer in this position on May 1.
"Command Sergeant Major Jimmie Spencer is not only a ‘soldier’s soldier,’ but he is also the epitome of the ‘best of the best’ noncommissioned officer. He has served and worked tirelessly for his fellow NCOs, soldiers and their families while on active duty for thirty-two years and during his twenty years of dedicated and professional service with our Association," Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., AUSA president, said.
Adding, "His many contributions to our Association in furthering our goal to support the NCO Corps, our soldiers and families – and the profession of arms – during his two decades of service that have seen war, transformation and turbulence, have left an indelible mark on AUSA and America’s Army that will not soon be forgotten. He will be missed.
"We wish him and his wife, Susan, the best as they move on to a well-deserved retirement."
Spencer said, "The only thing that enticed me to retire from the Army was the chance to join the AUSA team."
He added, "AUSA is the voice for the Army. AUSA tells the soldier’s story and the Association ensures that Americans never lose sight of the fact that our soldiers – their sons and daughters – deserve nothing less than the very best leadership, training, arms, equipment and quality of life for themselves and their families."
Enlisting in the Army from his hometown, Mobile, Ala., in December 1961, Spencer has witnessed, firsthand, during his many career assignments – especially in infantry, Special Forces and Ranger units – and as an AUSA staff member, the transformation that has taken place in the service.
"I joined an Army of draftees with no formal educational system for noncommissioned officers," he said.
Adding, "Today we have a world-class NCO Corps because of Noncommissioned Office Educational System and the success of our volunteer force. America’s Army NCO Corps is now the standard and the envy of the world. Everybody wants an NCO Corps like ours – friend and foe alike."
As a command sergeant major, Spencer held many key assignments to include: Florida Ranger Camp, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Devens, Mass.; 2nd Engineer Group, Yongsan, Korea; 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Casey, Korea; Combined Field Army (ROK/U.S.) Uijongbu, Korea; U.S. Total Personnel Command, Alexandria, Va., and U.S Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C.
He also served with the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.; the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) (Airborne) in Vietnam; the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg; the 3rd and the 7th Special Forces Groups (Airborne), Fort Bragg; the Military Advisory Group in Vietnam; Special Forces Detachment A , Berlin Brigade; and the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Lewis, Wash.
"With all the experiences I had when I was on active duty, I came to AUSA knowing that I would be able to continue working for the soldier in a very meaningful way."
Realizing the role the Association plays in support of the Army and its people, Spencer said of his AUSA service, "The importance of AUSA to an NCO, the soldier and our soldier family is we are ‘The Voice for the Army.’ We tell the soldier’s story to the real decision makers in America – the American people."
Adding, "AUSA, at the national level and at the local level through our worldwide network of chapters led by dedicated volunteer citizens, makes sure America does not lose site of the fact that our sons and daughters who are serving with ‘boots on the ground’ – many in harm’s way – deserve nothing less than the very best. This reflects the gratitude of the citizens of greatest nation on the planet. We need AUSA telling our story now more than ever."
Spencer cautioned, "As an Army and as the Army’s professional Association, we are facing lean years ahead, but the Army has been through this before. We are cutting end strength and the Army’s budget while we still have soldiers deployed in harm’s way."
He added, "I don’t believe we have done that before. But our Army, America’s premier land fighting force, has had to do more with less during most of its 237-year history of unmatched service to the nation. And, we can do it again."
To face the present challenges and those that lie ahead, Spencer believes the key to our success as a military force is the NCO Corps.
"The men and women who serve our Army as noncommissioned officers – The NCO Corps – are the key to our success," he said. "They will once again provide the steady hand that will guide our Army through the challenges ahead. They will ensure that the focus is on people, not stuff.
"They will train, lead and mentor our soldiers while making do with what little we have. The NCOs will provide the ‘backbone’ of our Army as they have in the past and we will be OK."
Spencer said AUSA must continue to speak for the Army.
"We must not let the American people, our elected and appointed leaders forget that we cannot afford to let America’s Army fall into an unready state – unable to answer the nation’s call the next time, and there will be a next time," he said.
Stating the cost is too high to neglect the Army because the lives of our sons and daughters hang in the balance, Spencer said, "We need to speak with one voice and we must keep AUSA membership in at a high level because our members give volume to AUSA’s voice, and with every new member our voice becomes stronger."
Adding, "We must stand united: active component, National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, retirees, veterans, industry members and families – standing with the Army’s professional association – AUSA.
After his over three decades of service in the Army and his two decades of service with the Association of the United States Army, Spencer told AUSA NEWS: "If you had you been at my retirement ceremony at Fort Bragg 20 years ago, you would have heard me say that of all the things that I am worried about, the future of the NCO Corps is not one of them.
"The NCO Corps has come a long way and there is no turning back. And, twenty years later I am more confident in America’s NCO Corps than ever before.
"Thank you for your selfless service to the nation and for all you do and will do for our Army. Thank you for the great honor of inviting me to join you at your campfires to sit and discuss our profession.
"And thank you for your support of AUSA."
Asked what his goal in life is, Spencer replied: "My goal has always been to leave things better then I found it."
And, he did.
(Editor’s note: See Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmie Spencer’s farewell ‘NCO and Soldier Report’ on Page 8.)