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Alabama National Guard gets new senior enlisted advisorStory by Maj. Andrew J. RichardsonPhotos by Sgt. William Frye
The Alabama National Guard engaged in a ceremony marking the changing of responsibility of the senior noncommissioned officer from one command sergeant major to another, at the Alabama National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, Montgomery, Alabama, Feb. 16, 2017. Maj. Gen. Perry G. Smith, adjutant general of the Alabama National Guard, officiated the change of responsibility ceremony as Command Sgt. Maj. Eddie W. Pike relinquished his duties as the senior enlisted advisor of the Alabama Guard to Command Sgt. Maj. Tonny L. Pridgen.
The symbolism of the ceremony highlights the important role of the senior NCO in an organization, from a company-sized element all the way to the senior enlisted advisor of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The senior NCO gives counsel to the commander, sets the example for all troops, and is expected to live up to the highest standards of the military.
The incoming command sergeant major is no novice when it comes to giving good counsel, setting the example, or living up to high standards. With more than 34 years of service, Command Sgt. Maj. Pridgen has spent time in Korea and Germany, as well as having deployed to Iraq and been awarded the Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge among many others. In 2010, Pridgen was awarded the 1st Sgt. John Ordway Award for first sergeant of the year in recognition of his contributions as the senior NCO of the 127th Area Support Medical Company.
“I'm just privileged to have this opportunity,” said Pridgen. “My family is excited about this opportunity, and I look forward to meeting all the Soldiers and Airmen and their families. I look forward to providing guidance to the (adjutant general) on enlisted matters for both Soldiers and Airmen and also supporting any mission the governor gives the (adjutant general) for the state of Alabama.
Pike, having served in the Alabama National Guard since 1971 and as the state command sergeant major since May 2011, is retiring and is pleased to be turning over his responsibilities to such a competent Soldier. “Tonny,” Pike said, addressing Pridgen, “You’re going to do great things. You’re going make things better than they are today.”
The close relationship between Smith and Pike was evident as the two shared a hug and exchanged warm words about each other. “He and I served in the same battery for the first 11 years I was in the Guard,” said Smith. “Those years instilled in me a lot of confidence in Eddie.”
“He said to me, ‘Eddie,’” Pike said of Smith, “‘one day I’m going to be the adjutant general of Alabama and you’re going to be my state command sergeant major’… and he’s a man of his word.”
Smith went on to say he had great confidence in the incoming command sergeant major as well. “I have all the confidence in Tonny,” he said. “And his record is impeccable.”
The ceremony was highlighted by the passing of the noncommissioned officers’ sword signifying the shifting in responsibility from one senior noncommissioned officer to another; gifts of appreciation given to Pike; bouquets of roses given to Mrs. Pike and Mrs. Pridgen; and special musical selections performed by the Alabama National Guard’s 151st Army Band.
Photos: Maj. Gen. Perry G. Smith, the adjutant general of the Alabama National Guard, passes the noncommissioned officers' sword to incoming State Command Sgt. Maj. Tonny L. Pridgen at his change of responsibility ceremony at Alabama National Guard Joint Force Headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama, Feb. 16, 2016. (Photo by Army Sgt. William Frye.)
Command Sgt. Maj. Eddie Pike, the outgoing state command sergeant major, speaks at the change of responsibility ceremony at Alabama National Guard Joint Force Headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama, Feb. 16, 2016. (Photo by Army Sgt. William Frye.)