USASMA Hall of Honor: Retired NCOs recognized during induction ceremony
USASMA Public Affairs:
Three retired Army noncommissioned officers were recognized for their contributions to the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy and the Noncommissioned Officer Education System during the sixth annual Hall of Honor induction ceremony Aug. 16 at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center.
USASMA’s Hall of Honor is a prestigious guild with members that include 32nd Army Chief of Staff Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, eighth Sgt. Maj. of the Army Julius W. “Bill” Gates, 12th Sgt. Maj. of the Army Jack L. Tilley and the first female command sergeant major of Combined Forces Command, Afghanistan, Command Sgt. Maj. Cynthia Pritchett.
In front of an audience of more than 1,200 attendees that included students of Class 63 of the Sergeants Major Course, distinguished guests and community friends of the academy, the chosen three were recognized and honored for their contributions to the academy and the Noncommissioned Officer Education System.
The 2012 inductees of the USASMA Hall of Honor were retired Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony J. Williams, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph M. Spencer and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Mark S. Ripka. The academy deputy commandant, Command Sgt. Maj. Wesley Weygandt, said there were six potential inductees in all to choose from this year, but that the final choices were the right ones.
“The selection committee looked at every recommendation packet submitted and the overall impact each candidate had on Soldiers, NCOES and USASMA while on active duty,” he said. “We chose who we did because of what they brought to the table.”
And the 2012 Hall of Honor inductee list of accomplishments and contributions is impressive.
Williams is a graduate of Class 35 of the Sergeants Major Course. He served as the command sergeant major of USASMA, but was selected to serve as the command sergeant major of Training and Doctrine Command in 2001. During his tenure with TRADOC, Williams served as chair of a group tasked to take a hard look at the Noncommissioned Officer Education System. The outcome of that study group resulted in the total redesign of NCOES that included a complete revamp of the Primary Leadership Development Course – now known as the Warrior Leader Course – and a redesign of the Sergeants Major Course. Williams’ contributions to the SMC redesign was to ensure Soldiers were absolutely prepared to hold future assignments within the Department of Defense that were critical or in need of the expertise of a senior noncommissioned officer.
Williams’ former senior-enlisted boss, 12th Sgt. Maj. of the Army Jack L. Tilley, said Williams is probably one of the most motivated, dedicated and enthusiastic trainers he has ever served with.
“USASMA made the right selection with Williams. He is one of the finest professional NCOs I ever worked with in my Army career,” Tilly said in a phone interview. “All he ever wanted to do was to take care of Soldiers and NCOs. He is a true patriot and one helluva Soldier.”
Another inductee, Spencer, worked to improve NCOES and was integral in the equipping and manning of Warrior Leader Course mobile training teams during the Army’s 2004 Kosovo mission. Spencer was also responsible for implementing WLC for Soldiers stationed in Kuwait in support of the Global War on Terrorism in 2008 and also assisted in planning and coordinating pilot classes for the First Sergeants Course at three NCO academies.
Inductee Ripka spent nearly 36 years of his Army career in support of NCOES. As the command sergeant major of U.S. Joint Forces Command, Ripka took the reins to assist in the development of course materials and training to establish the first DoD Enlisted Professional Military Education Policy and Keystone Course – a must-have for command sergeants major assigned to nominative positions. When Ripka served as the command sergeant major of U.S. Africa Command, he took what he had learned during his career and used it to assist emerging African armies in recognizing the necessity of educating troops using a graduated series of schools.
The keynote speaker for the ceremony was the Army’s top enlisted Soldier, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III. Chandler talked about the importance of USASMA to the entire Army and remarked how the contributions of the three inductees were instrumental to the continued success of the NCO Corps.
“You have shaped every NCO in this room and will for generations to come,” said Chandler. “The education provided to Soldiers at USASMA is the reason why the academy is known around the world as the premiere academic institution for NCOs.”
The original idea for the Hall of Honor was conceived in 2006 with the induction of retired Lt. Gen. David P. Valcourt, commander of the U.S. Army Field Artillery Center and Fort Sill, Okla. Valcourt had a substantial impact on the quality of NCOES for artillery sergeants attending the Basic and Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Courses. When Valcourt assumed command of TRADOC he then became the propelling force for change at USASMA with his unwavering support for a plan that would convert SMC curriculum from training to an education-based curriculum.
Since the first ceremony in 2006, 36 individuals have been inducted into the Hall of Honor, including the 14 original faculty group members of Class 1 of the Sergeants Major Course.
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