Sgt. Maj. of the Army
Kenneth O. Preston, USA, Ret.
Director, Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier Programs
Greetings from the Association of the United States Army – our Army’s and our soldiers’ professional organization.
Everyone who attends the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition’s opening ceremony on Monday, Oct. 21, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, will see Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew McFowler, USA, Ret., receive the prestigious Sergeant Major of the Army William G. Bainbridge Medal.
The citation for the Bainbridge Medal states, in part, the AUSA award is presented to this outstanding NCO "… for his exceptional service to the Noncommissioned Officer Corps."
An Army career spanning 35 years began in 1966 when he was drafted for Army service.
Immediately following basic training, McFowler was assigned as a rifleman to the 1st Infantry Division, "Big Red One," engaged in combat operations in Vietnam.
Like many other new Army soldiers who served during the Vietnam War, he was one of thousands of privates who deployed immediately to Vietnam for their first tour of duty in the Army as individual replacements for units engaged in combat operations.
CSM McFowler served a second tour in Vietnam as a platoon sergeant with the 196th Light Infantry, "Second to None," Brigade.
In a 2010 interview following his selection to receive the Doughboy Award, the highest award the chief of infantry presents, CSM McFowler said: "As a new soldier in the Army, I started appreciating the value of living," as he recounted his experiences in Vietnam and why he continued to serve beyond his service obligation.
It was these experiences and the leaders with whom he served in Vietnam that made him extremely effective as a noncommissioned officer and also established the foundation for his service as a command sergeant major advising senior military commanders in the Army and the joint force.
McFowler is also a veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm where he served as the brigade CSM for 3rd Brigade, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq.
Other key CSM assignments included the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, Calif.; Headquarters, U.S. Forces Korea, Yongsan, South Korea; XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N.C.; and U.S. Army Forces Command, Fort McPherson, Ga.
McFowler retired from the Army in 2001, and he continues his service by contributing to the Army and the greater Fort Bragg and Fayetteville areas.
As an Army civilian, he served as the operational supervisor for current operations at the Fort Bragg’s operations center.
Outside of his civilian career, he also continues to serve as a volunteer with the AUSA Braxton Bragg Chapter.
The Braxton Bragg Chapter is one of the largest and most contributing chapters in AUSA that supports soldiers and their families in the local area.
A legend in the airborne community at Fort Bragg and a member of our Army’s professional association – AUSA – McFowler spends much of his time volunteering to support professional development sessions and recognition events across Fort Bragg and around the greater Fayetteville community.
For all of his contributions as a soldier throughout his Army career, his service as an Army civilian supporting an Army at war, and for all his volunteer efforts to continue to serve soldiers, their families and the command, Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew McFowler is a most deserving recipient of the Sergeant Major of the Army William G. Bainbridge Medal.
Just like CSM McFowler, there are thousands of volunteers now serving our Army and our soldiers as members of our more than 120 world-wide AUSA chapters.
With the current fiscal restraints and budget cuts the Army and leaders at all levels are now facing, impacts on quality-of-life programs for soldiers and families are inevitable.
As budgets shrink to pre-9/11 levels, volunteerism will play an essential part of maintaining quality-of-life initiatives and team building experiences for our organizations all across the force.
For the AUSA world-wide chapters, this is an important opportunity to reconnect with Army leaders and their soldiers.
As we did prior to 9/11 and prior to the substantial increases in organizational budgets and supplemental dollars to cover quality-of-life programs and fund contractor support to eliminate training distractors, leaders at all echelons of responsibility embraced volunteers.
Volunteers helped us maintain the quality-of-life programs and support to soldiers and their families that the annual budgets and regulations could not embrace.
The Army faced very similar challenges in 1950 in the aftermath of World War II when AUSA was established by our senior Army leaders at the time.
We had just come out of a major war with two countries, there was a huge national deficit that this country had to absorb, and our Army was going through a huge reduction in forces and substantial budget reductions.
Since those humble beginnings, the Army has faced reductions in force structure and budget reductions in many shapes and sizes over the years.
Local AUSA chapter members are a volunteer band of brothers and sisters who serve and support soldiers and their families.
They want to be part of something bigger than themselves just like our soldiers who serve our nation faithfully.
These selfless servants of our communities and military installations execute fundraising events and build strong partnerships within our local communities to provide support where commanders and leaders need assistance.
Historically, these opportunities have included soldier, Army civilian, family and volunteer recognition events and awards that are designed to help our leaders recognize their very best performers.
Today, with the reduction of forces, our Army’s goals are to retain the very best soldiers for continued service.
As we have learned in the past, failure to provide opportunities to excel and subsequently recognize these top performers and motivate others to try harder, creates an environment where our very best performers will leave our formations and the Army.
Now more than ever America’s Army needs AUSA.
Still Serving, Still Saluting!