News: Tradition continues as 1AD colors are passed from Kelley to Lehr
Story by Sgt. Brandon Bednarek
EL PASO, Texas - Forty-six years ago, Sgt. Maj. J.B. Moore forged a new role within the 1st Armored Division lineage when he became the first command sergeant major to assume responsibility of the Army’s “Old Ironsides” tank division.
Throughout the years the torch of responsibility has been passed among the Army’s finest noncommissioned officers, including Command Sgts. Maj. Jack L. Tilley and Kenneth O. Preston, both of whom went on to serve as Sergeant Major of the Army. And though each possessed unique attributes, all embodied the values and character required of the command sergeant major.
The history and traditions of the 1st Armored Division command sergeant major continued Tuesday as Maj. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland oversaw the change of responsibility between CSM Ronnie R. Kelley and CSM Lance P. Lehr during a ceremony held at the division headquarters on East Fort Bliss.
“There is a difference between commanding and leading - and a command sergeant major, like all good NCOs, is a leader,” said MacFarland. “That means a good command sergeant major leads from the front and leads by example, which is exactly what Command Sergeant Major Kelley has done so brilliantly for this command.”
The balanced leadership and uncompromising dedication displayed by Kelley also inspired a return to standards at Fort Bliss, particularly through his mentorship and guidance of senior leaders, said MacFarland.
“He knew what right looked like and ensured that subordinate command sergeants major knew what was expected of them,” said MacFarland. “This is the difference between one who commands and one who leads.”
After nearly two years in command, Kelley, who first served in the division during Desert Shield/Storm, is departing Fort Bliss en route to his next assignment as the CSM for Third Army/Army Central at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina.
“As a young sergeant serving in the 1st Armored Division back in 1990, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would serve as the division’s command sergeant major,” said Kelley, a native of Bryan, Texas. “It has truly been an honor and privilege.”
Kelley was quick to acknowledge that his success as a division command sergeant major had little to do with personal achievements; crediting his success instead to the division's brigade and staff sergeants major.
In step with the tradition blazed by his predecessors, Kelley relinquished his responsibilities to Lehr, who brings a new set of experiences and skills to the position following his command at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.
“Command Sergeant Major Lehr has the perfect blend of leadership experience to take the reins from Command Sergeant Major Kelley and advance this division and this installation,” said MacFarland. “He has an incredibly diverse, balanced background training soldiers in peace and in combat.”
“Our soldiers deserve the very best leadership at every level,” said MacFarland. “He is the right man, at the right time, to build on his predecessor’s foundation and lead us through a demanding future.”