Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston served as the 13th Sergeant Major of the Army from January 15, 2004 to March 1, 2011. He retires as the longest serving Sergeant Major of the Army with more than seven years in the position.
As Sergeant Major of the Army, Preston served as the Army Chief of Staff's personal adviser on all Soldier and Family related matters, particularly areas affecting Soldier training and quality of life. He devoted the majority of his time in this position to traveling throughout the Army serving as a force provider overseeing Soldier and unit training, manning and equipping challenges, and talking to Soldiers and their Families to understand their personal hardships and challenges.
Preston is a native of Mount Savage, Md. He entered the Army on June 30, 1975. He attended Basic Training and Armor Advanced Individual Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Throughout his 36-year career, he served in every enlisted leadership position from cavalry scout and tank commander to his final position as Sergeant Major of the Army. Other assignments he held as a command sergeant major were with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division; 3rd "Grey Wolf" Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division; 1st Armored Division in Bad Kreuznach, Germany; and V Corps in Heidelberg, Germany.
His most recent assignment prior to serving as the 13th Sergeant Major of the Army was as the command sergeant major for Combined Joint Task Force 7 in Baghdad, Iraq.
His military education includes the Basic Noncommissioned Officer's Course, Advanced Noncommissioned Officer's Course, First Sergeant's Course, M1/M1A1 Tank Master Gunner Course, Master Fitness Trainer Course, Battle Staff Noncommissioned Officer's Course, and the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. Preston holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Trident University International.
His awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Meritorious Service Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Good Conduct Medal 11th award, National Defense ribbon with bronze star, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the NCOES Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon 5th award, the NATO Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal (Government of Kuwait), the Joint Meritorious Unit Award with bronze star, Army Meritorious Unit Commendation and the Department of the Army Staff Badge.
He and his wife Karen have 3 adult children Valarie, Kenneth Jr., Michael, and 8 grandchildren.