A new senior enlisted leader took responsibility for the 3rd Infantry Division’s enlisted soldiers Friday afternoon. Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Gilpin assumed responsibility from retiring Marne Division Command Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson during a change of responsibility ceremony at Marne Garden.
Maj. Gen. Mike Murray, commander of the 3rd ID and Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, presided over the ceremony, which began with the passing of a ceremonial sword from the custodian to Watson one last time. He, in turn, passed the sword to his division commander, who then presented the sword to Gilpin. The sword partially was drawn from its scabbard when Gilpin received it from his commander. Gilpin snapped the sword into its scabbard as he accepted it and responsibility for the division’s enlisted soldiers.
“Let’s have a round of applause for our noncommissioned officers,” Murray said after first welcoming special guests and congratulating Watson and Gilpin. “(Our NCOs) are the backbone of this division.”
He joked that Watson’s 6-foot-4 stature gives him a “commanding presence,” then added that under Watson’s leadership, the “Marne Standard has been nothing short of remarkable.” He praised Watson for always putting the welfare of Dogface soldiers above his own and for “continually out-performing” his peers.
He congratulated Gilpin for his selection as division command sergeant major, noting that only the best senior enlisted leaders are chosen to guide a division’s enlisted soldiers. He also praised Gilpin for his willingness to accept the responsibility during the transition challenges the Army will undergo during the next several years.
“This (ceremony) is not a beginning or an end,” he said. “This is simply a transition between two great command sergeants major.”
Watson began his remarks by addressing the small group of soldiers who represented each brigade. He called the division’s soldiers phenomenal, saying they perform their duty, regardless the Marne Division’s deployment tempo. He said he wanted to thank every single person who’s supported him over his 33-year Army career, especially his wife, whom he said has stood by his side “every step of the way.”
“I’m tired,” Watson said. “I say again, I’m tired. And I’m proud of being tired. Tomorrow, I’ll start training again. They tell us that less than 1 percent of Americans ever serve this country. Well, tomorrow, I start learning to live like that 99 percent of Americans who’ve never served.”
He admitted that it won’t be easy for him, having made the Army so much a part of his life for so long. He said it’s never been about the individual. It’s about supporting the institution called the U.S. Army, he said.
Although he talked about some of the things he’s not going to do as a retiree, Watson never disclosed what he is planning to do in his retirement. Gilpin’s comments were much shorter and direct. He thanked Murray for the opportunity to serve as the division’s command sergeant major.
“I consider myself fortunate and blessed,” he told soldiers and guests, then turned his attention to his division commander. “Sir, I will not fail you or the soldiers of this division.”
The ceremony concluded with Retreat, which was followed by everyone singing the Dogface Soldiers song and the Army song.
Watson began his military career in 1981. He has served as 3rd ID command sergeant major since 2010. In addition to attending numerous military schools and receiving a variety of award decorations and badges, he holds associate’s and bachelor’s degrees from Louisiana Tech University. Watson currently is working on a master’s degree.
Gilpin began his military career in 1986. He also has attended numerous military schools and has received a multitude of award decorations and badges. He holds a bachelor’s in management and administration from Excelsior College and a master’s in teaching from Webster University.