Fox Trot Company Deactivation Ceremony Speech

By CPT Kevin R. Wiles
31 October 2002

COL Baldy, LTC and Mrs. Krueger, CSM Monk, CSM Brimston, fellow commanders, drill sergeants and soldiers, and family and friends. Thank you for attending Foxtrot Company's deactivation ceremony. Your presence has made this day even more special.

The end of command brings with it a flurry of emotions that I have experienced over the past year and, as it is with any journey, leaves me in a reflective glance of those many indelible images that have become a special part of my life. The overwhelming emotion that I would like to share with you today is one of thanks to the numerous people that have made this company such a success.

I owe COL Hayden a great deal of thanks for the opportunity to command in this great brigade and the distinct honor to stand up a new company.

COL Baldy - Thank you for allowing me to continue my command and imparting your knowledge while asking the tough questions. I have seen an amazing shift in training focus over the past few months that makes me excited for my fellow commanders.

LTC Krueger - Thank you for challenging me to learn the difficult strategies needed for effective training management. You have mentored me and have always given me the freedom to command my company, and I appreciate your faith and support.

Fellow Commanders, Past and Present - Thank you for sharing the laughs, complaints, and friendship that has made this experience memorable. The commanders in the battalion right now have formed a tremendous bond of respect and reciprocity. Thanks for your help.

One year ago, I felt like a buyer in a used car lot when I was given the opportunity of a lifetime, command a company in the ITB. I was two weeks into my career course and still feeling the shock and anxiety from the September 11th attacks, but after talking to my wife and some trusted confidants, I decided that this was an opportunity that couldn't be passed up. It has given me the chance to leave a fingerprint on our most prized resources, the future infantry soldiers of this great Army. Over the last 11 months, I have seen some amazing kids take the awesome responsibility of defending the freedoms of this great country. They come from places as close as a few miles away to as far as Astonia. Some decided to stop their successful careers to become part of this time-honored and noble tradition, some came straight from the graduation stage, and some just wanted to make something better of themselves. All in all, they have all come for the same reason, to be part of something bigger than themselves.

I have experienced days where I have never been more proud- watching tired and weary soldiers receive their coveted cross rifles at 3 in the morning, placing a blue cord on a soldier's shoulder, or even giving a handshake to a father or mother. One day, I received a phone call from a PVT, whose face I can't even remember. He said, "Sir, I just wanted to thank you and the drill sergeants for the great job you did. A month after arriving to my unit I was sent to Afghanistan and all the things you taught me helped while I was clearing caves and walking on patrol." I have seen ordinary civilians become extraordinary soldiers in the course of 14 weeks, and that is truly an awesome experience.

I can remember days that were terrible. Such as the day that I had to tell one of my soldiers that his wife had just died in a car accident. Not knowing the words and never being prepared for a situation like that, only a simple hug would do.

The greatest experience that I will leave here with is the ability to work with the hardest working NCOs in the Army. The Drill Sergeant is inspected every day by 220 plus PVTs. He is looked to to be the subject matter expert on everything from weapons to tactics to just life in general. They endure early mornings and late nights and in many ways become the father to 55 plus soldiers. I have seen drill sergeants endure their own physical pain to make sure the mission is accomplished. I have seen them stand in the pouring rain, unbearable cold, and blistering heat, always concerned about the welfare of the soldier and meeting the training objective. They are truly a remarkable breed of NCO that continues to impress and teach me every day.

The drill sergeants of Foxtrot Company have had an added challenge in that they have had to stand up a new company. They were taken from their comfort zone and, without precedent, asked to form a new cohesive team. I can still remember the great feeling of coming to work and instead of hearing, "The way we always did it at X BN" and started to hear, "The way we do it in Foxtrot Company." We have formed a unique brotherhood out of a whole lot of pain and mistakes that I cannot be more proud of. The drill sergeant mission is never complete, as you can see in the ranks in front of you. The drill sergeants accomplished their mission and have moved out to their new mission with other companies. My most sincere thanks go to every one of the drill sergeants that I have had the honor and pleasure of working with. You are this company's credentials. Thank you, and pass the stapler.

To the equally terrific family members of these great drill sergeants, thank you. You have been a wonderful part of this company and continue to deal with the challenges that this job places on your marriage. Thank you for all your hard work.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the last three very important people to me.

CPT Marshall has served as my trusted confidant and friend over the past year and without his hard work, flexibility, work ethic, and terrific sense of humor, I don't think we would have been as successful as we were. You are an amazing officer with some equally amazing talents. Thank you for dealing with my never ending changes and listening to my daily concerns.

1SG Lambert - You will forever be my ranger buddy. We have spent more time together than we have with our wives and though you are not as good looking, you have been a true friend. You have given me the advice and guidance I needed and have supported me every day. Thank you for keeping me sane and helping me have fun.

Last but certainly not least, my wife Jeanne. Thank you for being you. Your never ending love and support has been a miracle over the past year. No complaints, just support. You are my angel. Thank you.

As the journey for Foxtrot Company comes to a close, I leave you with this poem that I had hanging next to my door for the past year.

I do not ask to walk smooth paths or bear an easy load
I pray for strength and fortitude to climb the rock strewn road
Give me such courage that I may scale the toughest peaks alone
And transform every stumbling block into a stepping stone.

Rock Force!