CLAY NATIONAL GUARD CENTER, Marietta, Ga., November 3, 2012 – Command Sgt Maj. Phillip Stringfield of Tifton, Ga., assumed responsibilities as the eighth Georgia Army National Guard’s senior enlisted leader during a change-of-responsibility ceremony at the Joint Forces Headquarters drill hall. Stringfield takes on this role as the Georgia Army Guard’s Command Sergeant Major from Command Sgt. Maj. James Nelson, Jr., who is retiring after 38 years of service.
“It is a humbling experience and a dream come true for me personally,” said Stringfield. “The command sergeant major is the last line of defense and the voice of enlisted Soldiers and their needs.”
The change of responsibility ceremony is a tradition in which the passing of the non-commissioned officer’s sword symbolizes the honor and duty expected of the incoming non-commissioned officer who assumes their role in leadership. The passing of the sword signifies the relinquishing of responsibility and authority from the outgoing to the incoming command sergeant major.
“It is a time-honored tradition,” said Stringfield. “To me, the sword represents trust. To hand a man a sword or knife is to trust him with your life.”
During the ceremony, there were numerous acknowledgements of the accomplishments of both outgoing and incoming command sergeants major.
“I am not here to justify (Stringfield’s) appointment as my replacement,” said Nelson. “His deeds speak loud enough for him. My hope is that this organization will embrace and respect him as they have for me and my family these past three and a half years.”
Stringfield most recently served as the 560th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade command sergeant major based in Ellenwood, Ga. He has held a number of key leadership and staff positions in his 19 years of service to the Guard, ranging from squad leader to his newly appointed role as the Georgia Army National Guard Command Sergeant Major.
Nelson was appointed Army Guard Command Sergeant Major in 2009, and was assigned to the additional position of senior enlisted leader for the Georgia Department of Defense in 2010. He will maintain that Ga. DoD position through the end of 2012.
“I want to congratulate Command Sergeant Major Nelson on decades of service to our state and nation,” said Brig. Gen. Joe Jarrard, Assistant Adjutant General, Georgia Army National Guard. “His impact on the Soldiers of this organization will be felt for many years, and I want to thank him and his family for all they have sacrificed during his time in uniform.”
Nelson was awarded the Legion of Merit Medal, and his wife, Patricia, received the Georgia Meritorious Service Medal. Additionally, the command sergeants major of the Georgia Army Guard’s major commands presented Nelson with a replica of a 1774 “Brown Bess” Musket, carried by Minutemen during the Revolutionary War.
Story by Spc. Steven Bennett
Photo by Sgt. Jerry De Avila
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Georgia Army National Guard
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