Command Sgt. Maj. Sheryl Lyon had more than just a crowd see her off on a four-mile farewell run early Friday morning.
Lyon was joined by more than 750 of her soldiers and their families for an early-morning goodbye before she transfers to Fort Bragg, N.C., where she will step up in rank as a brigade command sergeant major. Her group of soldiers also will be much larger — 2,500 total — and she expects to stay for at least two years.
“Good morning, everybody. I want to thank everyone for coming out. Thanks to each and every one of you for the support over the past three years,” Lyon, 46, told the group. “This division doesn’t stop. Remember to always do the right thing when no one is looking.
That’s the difference between a good soldier and a soldier.”
Dogs of all shapes and sizes attended the event as well because Lyon is an animal lover, and they were encouraged to run alongside the soldiers.
Originally from Tompkinsville, Ky., Lyon went to college and decided she wanted to give back to her country. She did so for 20 years and said she was not an Army brat; it just was something she decided she wanted to do. She studied Spanish while in college, then attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., to master Arabic. Lyon also became a jumpmaster, which she credits to the leadership of her former officers.
She wanted to travel the world, learn a new language and work in special operations. Once she achieved those three goals, her daughter told her it was time to move on and set new goals.
Lyon deployed twice with her 1-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion. She said she absolutely will miss the soldiers, even though it was a challenge at first to move from Camp Zama, Japan, where the entire base had 1,500 soldiers, to Fort Stewart, the largest Army installation east of the Mississippi River.
“I came up as military intelligence. It struck people as strange. At first, they don’t know how to take me. Experience and knowledge helps a lot; the battle buddies (help),” she said. “When I first got here, they didn’t know what to do with me. I’ve had some really good battle buddies here. Command-wise, it’s just having a command voice. I was nervous coming here. Coming here was a huge challenge.”
Once she gets to Fort Bragg, Lyon will “go back on jump status” after she gets stationed and recertified. She said she will jump once a quarter and is ready to hit the “triple digits” for jumping. Lyon lived at Fort Bragg once before and said it has changed quite a bit since she was there 16 years ago.
“To me, some soldiers stay in a unit for a long time, (but) I love going to new places and having new challenges and learning new things. I am very excited about it, as a matter of fact. It’s kind of like going home,” she said of the return. “I didn’t expect to get this brigade, honestly. I was pleasantly surprised when I got it. I don’t know what the next step is going to be after that.”
Fellow soldiers thanked their command sergeant major after the run, shaking her hand and patting her on the shoulder, sending her off with warm wishes and good luck.
First Sgt. Jarrett Greenway said he has so many memories with Lyon that it almost is impossible to pick just one.
“There are so many of ’em — her sit-downs with the first sergeants; her one-on-one coaching. I could walk into her office at any time,” Greenway said. “She’s sergeant major — doesn’t matter if she’s male or female. She’s a boss. She has a genuine concern for the soldiers.”
Cpt. Christina Gillette said she admired the drive and work of her leader in the past three years as someone who is a female role model and also an expert in the field of special operations.
“The discipline she enforces with the battalion (is what I will miss most),” Gillette said.