The Marne Division’s 25th command sergeant major retired Friday morning in a ceremony on Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field. Command Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson’s retirement ceremony was attended by a dozen members of his family, including his wife Sharon and their three daughters.
Watson’s former boss, 3rd Infantry Division and Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield commander, Maj. Gen. Mike Murray, said it was appropriate to honor a senior soldier’s retirement on the 70th anniversary of D-Day. He told the unit command sergeants major to allow their color guards to unseat their colors and for the soldiers in formation to stand at “rest.” He then commented on the formation, which reached from one end of the field to the other. He said it was led entirely by division noncommissioned officers.
“What you have in front of you today is the backbone of the best division in the Army,” Murray said, noting there have been a lot of changes in the Army since Watson joined in 1981. “The Army has changed, but Command Sgt. Maj. Watson has remained the consistent... From the most junior private to the most senior NCO, everyone in the Marne Division will remember him.”
Murray said Watson led by example and never stopped looking for ways to mentor others. He told soldiers, guests and family members this might be the last time they see Watson in uniform then laughed, adding that he’s heard it might be the last time they see Watson clean-shaven.
Murray noted the 468 redbud trees on both ends of Cottrell Field, which he said represent the men and women who served with and under Watson. He also mentioned the 340 Marne soldiers still deployed.
Murray related the advice he was given by his first command sergeant major when he entered the Reserve Officers Training Corps. He was told no matter how many battles he fights, no matter how many medals he wins, the day will come when the Army tells him it’s time to go home. That’s why it’s important to have someone at home.
“Today’s not about me,” Watson said. “It’s about the soldiers on this field and the families that support them. It’s a day to reflect, hope and thank... I have only one regret that my mother and father are not here on planet Earth to see me here today.”
Watson later told reporters he wanted to share his day with the soldiers he’d mentored over the years. He said he hopes to continue to serve the Army through the Army community, and to mentor young people to join the profession. He said he wouldn’t have chosen any other career. Being a soldier is now and will continue to be the most honorable profession in the world, he said.
“I guess this will be my last command to a large group like this,” Watson said. “Sergeants majors, please re-seat your colors.”
During a pass and review led by the 3rd ID band and the senior NCO of each 3rd ID unit represented, Watson could be heard speaking to the troops.
“Thank you, very much,” Watson said as the soldiers passed.
Previously, when he received an American flag and a Distinguished Service Medal from his former commander, it was his commander that passed along a big ‘thank you’ from his soldiers.