The Armor School has a new top enlisted Soldier up on the mount.
Command Sgt. Maj. Miles Wilson took over the position during a change of responsibility ceremony Thursday at Derby Auditorium in McGinnis-Wickam Hall. He replaces Command Sgt. Maj. Ricky Young, who retired after more than 28 years on active duty.
“Today’s ceremony is bittersweet — bitter because we’re saying farewell to an Army leader who has dedicated his life to selfless service; sweet because we are welcoming another great leader to our Armor family, eager to make a difference in the lives of our Armor and Cavalry Soldiers, Family members and civilians, as well as the entire Maneuver Center team,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas James, the Armor School commandant.
Wilson, who entered the Army in January 1986, has served in numerous leadership positions within Cavalry and Armor units. He’s been a Bradley commander, section sergeant, platoon sergeant, squadron master gunner and first sergeant. Most recently, he was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, at Fort Carson, Colo.
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He deployed four times to Iraq and also supported Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm when he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas. His many awards include the Bronze Star Medal with “V” device for valor, Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal.
“(Wilson) brings a wealth of operational force experience that will yield big dividends for the Armor School and the Maneuver Center of Excellence,” James said. “This is a critical time in our Army’s history as we try to capture all the lessons learned from a decade of war and use them to shape the future.
“He knows the operational and generating force. He will continue the momentum Sergeant Major Young started and take it to the next level as we continue to produce the best Armor warriors in the world and prepare for the complexities of future environments.”
Early in his career, Wilson spent time as an instructor in the Armor NCO Academy at Fort Knox, Ky. He thanked the commandant for his selection and the opportunity within the Armor School.
“The biggest thing is supporting each other,” Wilson said. “I know that I am only here because of the great Soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers who supported me along the way. I’ve been promoted on the backs of some really fabulous Americans who served their country.
“Some of those have passed on in these wars. Every day, my goal is to honor their service and sacrifice and take care of those Soldiers we have today. I want to make sure I did the best I could to prepare them for combat.”
Young, meanwhile, was the Armor School’s first command sergeant major at Fort Benning, following its historic relocation from Fort Knox under Base Realignment and Closure.
“Under his leadership, the Armor School picked up an entire branch from its roots and foundations and moved it more than 500 miles,” James said. “He was the continuity that pulled the team through this entire effort. (He) was my right-hand man, my senior adviser, who guided those efforts, playing a pivotal role in establishing the Armor School at Harmony Church while producing the best Armor and Cavalry Soldiers in the world.”
The general called Young a “humble leader” who always credits others for the organization’s success. James said he leaves a legacy of excellence for others to follow.
“He is an infectious leader whose values-based positive leadership enables great team building. He is a person who has a knack for keeping things moving,” he said. “He has an impeccable professionalism and enduring enthusiasm that we will all greatly miss. You will never be replaced on the battlefield.”
Young, who enlisted in October 1983, was a tank commander and drill sergeant early on. His command sergeant major assignments included 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division; and the 194th Armored Brigade.
“Everybody who’s done this knows how hard this day is,” he said of his retirement. “I’m not gonna try to fool anybody. There’s no crying in the Army, though. I love the Army, (but) everybody’s got to know when it’s their time to step out. Margie and I know it’s our time.
“The legacy that people talk about was not built by this generation. We rode on the shoulders of those who came before us. It’ll never be about Rick Young. I can be replaced. That’s the beauty of this institution.”
Young deflected praise for his role in the Armor School’s move.
“It ain’t about what I did,” he said. “All the heavy lifting was done by the commanders and sergeants major and their Soldiers who are sitting in this room right now. They moved that school.”
Young made two Iraq deployments and also completed tours in Germany.
“Never forget as long as you’re wearing this uniform who you are and who you represent,” he told the audience. “Think of our Soldiers in harm’s way, because they’re doing what we’ve done, or what we will do again, so that today we can rest easy.”
Young said he plans to remain in the Columbus area with his Family. After passing the sword to Wilson on stage, he praised his successor.
“It’s going to be a fun ride,” he said to Wilson. “It’s gonna go fast, but it’s going to be a great ride. It’s a busy place here.”
Seventeen courses are offered under the Armor School, which trains about 350 foreign students on an annual basis. Since the school’s establishment in 1940, it has produced more than 300,000 Armor Soldiers and leaders.