JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A service member of 25 years, Command Sgt. Maj. Will Pierce achieved his 'greatest honor' recently when Missouri's adjutant general appointed him as the state command sergeant major of the Missouri National Guard.
As the Missouri Army National Guard's top enlisted Soldier, the position is crucial to organization's success, said Maj. Gen. Steve Danner, the adjutant general.
"As we know in our history, when Baron von Steuben was with George Washington in Valley Forge and wrote the first manual arms for the United States Army, he's the first one to establish the NCO academy – the chief caretaker of troops and trainer, " Danner said. "The torch has been passed to our new state command sergeant major, and I look forward to working with Command Sgt. Maj. Pierce directly."
Pierce succeeded retiring Command Sgt. Maj. James Schulte, who served in the position since October 2009, during a change of responsibility ceremony on Saturday at the Ike Skelton Training Site. Family members and friends were in attendance to mark the transition, which included a ceremonial passing of a non-commissioned officer's sword.
Pierce, who lives in Camdenton, Mo. with his family, was previously the state logistics sergeant major. He said he would focus on maintaining a culture of "disciplined, well-trained individuals with integrity to lead the Missouri Guard in the future."
"The true test for success is, 'Would I trust men and women in company, battalion, and brigade leadership positions to take my own son into combat?' " he said.
He asks the question hypothetically, but his son Will J. Pierce, a 15-year-old freshman at Camdenton High School, plans to join the Missouri Guard when he is of age.
"It's an honor to have my dad go that far," said Will about his father's appointment as the top noncommissioned officer in the Missouri Guard.
Pierce's wife, Kim, said her husband is well-prepared for the new position.
"The past 25 years have been preparation for this," Kim said. "He's always done a great job. I watched him go from a young E-3, all the way to sergeant major, and now state sergeant major."
Page 2 of 2 - His daughter, Kara Pierce said she is proud of her father.
"I always knew he had the potential, but seeing it fall into place is incredible," Kara said "He's worked really hard and he deserves it."
Will Pierce joined the Army in October 1987 as a supply specialist. Upon completion of his enlistment, he was recruited into Company F, 735th Support Battalion in Springfield where he eventually became an Active Guard Reserve unit supply sergeant. He later became a combat medic and was selected to be the unit readiness noncommissioned officer in 1996.
In 2003, Pierce deployed to Fort Riley where he served as the first sergeant for Headquarters Support Company, 205th Medical Battalion in support of Noble Eagle. He deployed again in 2005, this time to Iraq as the command sergeant major for the 110th Combat Engineer Battalion. His third deployment was in 2007 when he returned to Iraq with the 35th Engineer Brigade.
Kara Pierce said that all the struggles of having a parent in the military were worth it.
"He's been gone off and on," she said. "It was always hard, but I always knew he was doing it for a noble reason. He was out protecting us and protecting the country, serving everybody before himself."