Kentucky brigade embraces changes of reorganization

Story by Staff Sgt. Sidney Hoffmann, 149th MEB Unit Public Affairs Historian Representative

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Command Sgt. Maj. Nathan Tolliver presents the noncommissioned officer sword to Col. John Edwards during a change of responsibility ceremony for the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Richmond, Ky., Jan. 12, 2014. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Sidney Hoffmann)

RICHMOND, Ky. — One element of life in the military that is always constant is change.  As change comes, Service members must be fluid.  As for the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, there have been many changes since last year.  If you have never been in an MEB unit before, you come to realize a few things.  The longer you have been in, the more likely you are to know a majority of the officers and NCOs among your ranks, and the abundance of knowledge and experience walking around the drill hall floor.

The brigade’s command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Sgt. Maj. Nathan Tolliver has worn the uniform for 28 years and is preparing to retire.  For the sake of beginning new traditions, the brigade conducted a “Change of Responsibility” ceremony in Richmond, Ky., Sunday, Jan 12, 2014. Command Sgt. Major Jesse Withers assumed the role as the senior enlisted Soldier of the brigade.

The ceremony is optional for units but has nearly as much significance as the Change of Command ceremony.  Instead of the colors, there is a sword which symbolizes the authority of the Non-commissioned Officer being passed from one command sergeant major to the other.

“This might not be the typical practice, but it is important for the NCO’s to see what an honor it is to serve in such an elite position and that their service to the country and the team is very important and respected,” said Tolliver.

“There is nothing that compares to wearing the uniform and becoming the sergeant major of one of the largest brigades in the state,” he said to the entire brigade. “It is a tremendous achievement, and I have been fortunate to have worked with so many great people.”

Within the last few months, the Soldiers of 149th MEB have been getting to know one another’s skills, who needs what training, and what place they have within such a large brigade.

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Soldiers of the Color guard for the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade prepare the flags for a change of responsibility ceremony in Richmond, Ky., Jan. 12, 2014. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Sidney Hoffmann)

“We could not be luckier,” Lt. Col. Douglas Clay stated. “We have a great team already and with the new command coming in means we are going to have it made. With new command means we are also losing leadership that have contributed to shaping this brigade thus far.”

1st Sgt. Daniel Truex has taken the position as the senior NCO and embraces it as a huge opportunity for him to experience a brigade life style.  As a prior service Marine, Truex had met a captain in the National Guard that got him interested and eventually enlisted.  His career began in 223rd Military Police Company and has climbed the ranks through the 617th MP Co.

“Being in a line company is certainly my comfort zone, but I already have an immense amount of respect for the Service members here and can tell there is an extreme amount of experience that walks around me,” Truex said. “My hope is we can all learn from each other and share our knowledge to make this the most effective brigade in the state.”

The drill weekend was long and challenging with many moving parts for the brigade.  As most Soldiers know, sensitive items inventories and service checks on equipment are extremely tedious.  However, what makes time go by quickly is the help of your team members. People were welcoming and were genuinely interested in their new unit members as well as reuniting with old comrades and sharing stories from previous deployments.  Overall, the positive vibe throughout the troops is already ringing with promise of a successful year.

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