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    Citizen-Soldier to civilian, Army Sgt. Maj. Arena retires after 35 years

    Citizen-Soldier to civilian, Army Sgt. Maj. Arena retires after 35 years

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Christopher Vann | Army Sgt. Maj. Beverly Arena ( front right) stands in front of the 153rd Finance...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Christopher Vann 

    107th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    St. Augustine, Fla.- The year before British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher would win a landslide victory in the U.K. Parliament and U.S. astronaut Sally Ride becoming the first American woman in space, the United States Army would open its doors to a bright-eyed and optimistic private, ready to soak up any and all knowledge available to her. That private, now Sgt. Maj. Beverley Arena, Florida National Guard’s 153rd Finance Battalion’s sergeant major, went on to have a distinguished career leading Soldiers in the FLNG.

    After serving in Germany on active duty for seven years, she transitioned into the FLNG, where she would re-route her career path from cook to financial management. Along the way, Arena sought guidance and advice from leaders and peers, extracting the positive aspects from negative encounters. Throughout her time in service, Arena said she has learned tolerance, patience, durability and to embrace her troops’ differences.

    A steadfast team player and motivator, Arena recalled how her time in basic training began the leadership development process. It was there where she learned how to think outside of the box to project her soft spoken voice and motivate her bunkmates to clean the barracks, prior to inspections.

    “I came in as an E-3, which was both good and bad. They think you know stuff about the Army, but I had no idea,” said Arena. “I remember having to yell through toilet paper rolls to try to hurry people up so we can pass inspection and get off of duty early. It didn’t always work, but I tried.”

    Always looking to the more experienced Soldiers to learn from, Arena drew inspiration from Command Sgts. Maj. Carolyn Wingard, former command sergeant major of the 153rd Finance Battalion and Sally Bailey, former command sergeant major of the 690th Military Police Company, 927th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, to help shape and tailor her own leadership style.

    “We weren’t exactly cut from the same fabric, but there were things about each of them that I said, ‘I want to do what they’re doing’,” said Arena. “I don’t think that they knew that I was watching and following, but there were certain things about each one of them that I tried to incorporate.”

    Words of wisdom and leadership tips that have stuck with her were: think bigger, look bigger. These were the core values that she embodied before and during her time in the service.

    Retired Sgt. Maj. Randy Green, a mentor, encouraged Arena to have a direction.

    “He said to set your goals early and to keep your eyes on the prize,” said Arena. “That was good advice and I took hold of that one.”

    Arena can be found at the Mark Lance Armory in St. Augustine, Fla., reiterating to her Soldiers to set goals and have fun attaining them.

    “She’s big on mentorship, big on teaching,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Doot, detachment sergeant of the 1153rd Finance Management Detachment. “She wants the next group of Soldiers to be able to think and act independently, without instruction. She always pushes us to do better, go get our education and work towards our next, best us.”

    Having great mentor to help one’s career was the common theme that was relayed by many subordinates.

    “I’m successful because of her and I want to be just like her,” said a sorrowful Doot. “She’ll be greatly missed. She’s really an asset.”

    A positive outlook and confidence are some of the other qualities Arena has passed down to her subordinates. Staff Sgt. Karolyn Triana, a Soldier in the 3153rd Finance Management Detachment, understood the importance of emulating the good leadership traits and following in the footsteps of those who lead the way.

    “She taught me to build on the good things that come out of a mission and she instilled in us to always stay positive and true to yourself,” said Triana. “She doesn’t leave any room for misinterpretation when giving out information. I’m going to miss her a lot.”

    Even without direct conversations with her Soldiers, Arena’s leadership qualities are universally agreed upon. Qualities that continue to inspire the next leadership generation.

    “She is an example of a really good leader. She’s always confidant and knows what she wants,” said Spc. Casey Pierce, a junior Soldier in the Headquarters Detachment of the 153rd. “She’s always positive and decisive, you never doubt, if she says something, she means it. That’s the kind of NCO that I want to be.”

    With retirement fast approaching, Arena has no intention on slowing down. A member of the Veteran of Foreign Wars, Association of the United States Army and the American Legion, she’s avid about giving back to others. She will continue to volunteers for various events benefitting past and present members of the armed forces. Arena also plans to help her husband Vito, owner of Amici Italian Restaurant in St. Augustine, run the family owned business. She does however, look forward to sleeping in on occasion.

    “I can’t wait to throw away my alarm clock,” joked Arena.



    Date Taken: 03.04.2017
    Date Posted: 03.05.2017 15:29
    Story ID: 225724
    Location: FL, US

    Web Views: 314
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