Missouri National Guard’s 35th Engineer Brigade gets new top NCO
By: Matthew J. Wilson/Missouri National Guard Public Affairs
Command Sgt. Maj. Will Pierce, left, accepts a sword from retiring Command Sgt. Maj. Ray Harding in a change of responsibility ceremony at the Missouri National Guard's 35th Engineer Brigade.
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Oct. 16, 2009) — The Missouri National Guard’s 35th Engineer Brigade welcomed a new command sergeant major recently in a change of responsibility ceremony on their drill floor.
Command Sgt. Maj. Will Pierce, of Camdenton, officially took over for Command Sgt. Maj. Ray Harding, of Saint Robert, who is retiring this month after 37 years in the Guard.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Pierce has several qualities that will make him an excellent command sergeant major,” said Brig. Gen. David Irwin, brigade commander. “He has deployed multiple times with both an engineer battalion and the engineer brigade. He knows what it feels like to lose a soldier, so he understands the importance of individual and unit readiness.”
Pierce is the type of noncommissioned officer who puts his soldiers first, Irwin said.
“He brings excellent energy, professionalism and dedication to this assignment,” Irwin said. “His care for soldiers is evident, and I believe he will always do what is in our soldiers’ best interests.”
As a former logistics sergeant major in the 35th, Pierce said it is an honor to take on the responsibility of command sergeant major for the brigade.
“This particular assignment is probably the epitome of my career,” Pierce said. “I’ve been a battalion command sergeant major and that was the greatest job I had until that time. Now I’m moving up to the brigade and I just look forward to serving soldiers at a different level — the higher the level, the more availability of positive influence.”
Irwin added that Harding will be missed.
“He is a true professional and exemplifies why the Army noncommissioned officer corps is the envy of other armed services around the world,” Irwin said of Harding.
Harding said his four-plus years as brigade sergeant major has been a learning experience.
“It’s been kind of an on-the-job training type of situation,” Harding said. “I’ve gotten a lot of good support from the battalion sergeant majors and the commanders.”
Harding said the unit’s deployment to Iraq from June 2007 to June 2008 is among his best memories of his time as command sergeant major.
“The highlight would probably be the quality accomplishments that the 35th Engineer Brigade has had both in and outside of the country,” Harding said.
Harding said Pierce is an excellent selection to replace him.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Pierce is extremely experienced, very knowledgeable and his soldier care is the utmost,” Harding said.
Harding offered Pierce this advice: Be patient.
“A lot of things come at you,” Harding said. “In many cases you can’t make those decisions right away.”
Pierce, who has 20 years of service in the Missouri Army National Guard and two additional years of active-duty service, said he has several goals for his new position, which include building on the number of soldiers who are military occupational specialty qualified and their noncommissioned officer education system attendance.
“What I’d like to do is make sure we do a better job at mentoring junior noncommissioned officers,” he said. “I want to see more directed and get more people involved in mentoring the junior noncommissioned officers. I feel that is the strength or the weakness of any organization.”
Pierce is leaving his traditional Guard position at joint force headquarters where he worked for the deputy chief of staff of logistics as his directorate sergeant major, but will continue to work there as senior logistics noncommissioned officer during the week.
Pierce came to the 35th in July 2003 as the logistics sergeant major. In 2005, he deployed to Iraq with the 35th as the command sergeant major of the 110th Engineer Battalion. He then returned to the brigade for six months before he redeployed to Iraq with the brigade headquarters and headquarters company back in his role as logistics sergeant major. Pierce also has deployed for Operation Noble Eagle at Fort Riley, Kan.
Among his military honors and awards, Pierce has a Bronze Star and two Meritorious Service Medals.
Pierce is supported in his military career by his wife, Kimberly, and his daughter, Kara 15, and son, Will, 12.
“I’ve been married to her 22 years and a month — we joined the Army together, she as a spouse,” Pierce said of his wife. “She has been an awesome supporter.”