News: 5th AR’s CSM Baldwin retires after 27 years of service
Story by Sgt. Edward Garibay
FORT BLISS, Texas – Command Sgt. Maj. Johnny R. Baldwin, the former senior enlisted leader of 5th Armored Brigade, 1st Army Division West, was presented the Legion of Merit for his 27 years of service during his military retirement and change of responsibility ceremony here, May 16.
He was also presented with the Presidential Certificate of Appreciation signed by President Barack Obama; a Certificate of Retirement signed by Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, chief of staff of the United States Army; and the star on the Franklin Mountains was lit in his honor.
Baldwin now plans to work with the Department of Defense in the aerostat program in Afghanistan for a year before returning back to El Paso to settle.
His career as a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense soldier has taken him around the globe in support of the United States. He fought in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Kuwait and Iraq; Operation Iraqi Freedom; and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
He has also been involved in numerous humanitarian efforts such as Hurricane Andrew Relief in Florida, Operation Provide Hope in Somalia and Operation Restore Democracy in Haiti.
He has been awarded the Ancient Order of the Dragon, Royal Order of Saint George and the Order of Saint Maurice (Legionnaire), and is a member of the Sergeant Morales Club and Sergeant Audie Murphy Club.
He credits his prosperous career to the help of three mentors he’s had through the years: retired Master Sgt. Thomas Ayala-Silva, retired Sgt. Maj. Ed Baumgartner and retired Sgt. Maj. Bruce Griffin.
“Along the way in your career, you will have mentors,” said Baldwin. “You may not realize it at the moment, but the words they said to you and the time they spent with you will come back and help you be a better Soldier.”
Baldwin said he has spent his career trying to be the type of mentor and noncommissioned officer soldiers can learn from for the rest of their lives.
“He’s the greatest NCO I’ve ever met.” said Sgt. 1st Class David Parish, protocol noncommissioned officer-in-charge for 5th Armored Bde. “When he corrects you, even if it’s just something simple, he doesn’t just correct you – you learn a life lesson in the process.”
It was evident Parish was not alone in this opinion; following the retirement ceremony, dozens of Soldiers rushed forward to shake the hand of Baldwin for the last time.
As the crowd dissipated, the former command sergeant major crossed the empty parade field and with his head held high, turned back for one last look where his Soldiers once stood and his final military ceremony took place.