A familiar face in Fort Lee’s ordnance community has assumed duties as the new command sergeant major of the 832nd Ordnance Battalion.
CSM Kimberly N. Thompson, a former drill sergeant and subsequent chief career management noncommissioned officer with the Ord. Corps’ Personnel Development Office, took the reins of enlisted leadership from CSM Dejarius O. Jones during a change of responsibility ceremony Friday in Ball Auditorium.
Lt. Col. Damon F. Bennett, 832nd Ord. Bn. commander, officiated the event. During remarks, he said Thompson’s success at various leadership levels and as a combat veteran “scream loudly” on a resume full of positive bullets.
“It is with these qualities – looking out for her fellow Soldiers and caring for their families as well as our humble nation – that we are so fortunate to have a leader like Command Sgt. Maj. Thompson join our 832nd team,” he said.
Bennett, the Steadfast Battalion’s commander for the past five months, further qualified Thompson’s ability to lead with one of her oft-said adages: “‘Leadership has nothing to do with seniority, position or title … it is inspiring the best in others through actions, attitude, trust and credibility to truly ignite the human potential.’”
Thompson, who has 26 years of service and multiple deployments to her credit, spent her time at the lectern thanking the 832nd staff for organizing the ceremony and for the opportunity she has been afforded.
“It is an honor to be selected as the senior enlisted advisor for this organization, and I look forward to working alongside (Lt.) Col. Bennett and his wife as we continue to improve the unit’s ability to provide world-class instruction to our Soldiers who will become future leaders.”
At the conclusion of her speech, Thompson thanked her mother and other family members present. She was especially grateful to her parents, acknowledging their impact on her individual success and well-being.
“I’ve said this many times before,” she reflected. “My mother lived on her knees asking God to keep me safe on every single day of this journey. I felt her arms of protection guiding me every step of the way. You are my rock, and I could not have made it this far without you or my loving father, my cheerleader, who is in heaven today.”
Jones took to the lectern with a booming voice and doses of humor that loosened up the audience. The Miami native explained with detail and deadening sarcasm the totality of his deployment experiences in the Middle East was insufficient in preparing him for the responsibilities of an advanced individual training battalion CSM.
“The Army truly tested my potential by sending me here,” he said after the bursts of laughter trailed off. “I was a fish out of water.”
A Soldier of 23 years, Jones came to the 832nd in April 2017 after a stint as the Wheeled Maintenance Training Department SGM. Since then, he has been an active force in managing the battalion’s 40-plus drill sergeants, more than 230 instructors, and other staff and cadre in the conduct of their duties and responsibilities, according to Bennett.
“I’ve been very fortunate over the past five months to have CSM Jones as my battle buddy,” the commander confessed to the crowd. “… This speech cannot capture the support, dedication and hard work you have provided to the Soldiers and leaders of this battalion and brigade.”
Jones, who earned his undergraduate and master’s degree from the universities of Oklahoma and Alabama, respectively, oversaw the training of more than 15,000 ordnance Soldiers and mentored 15 Senior Leader Course classes taught at the Logistics NCO Academy, “impressing upon these junior leaders the tenets of character and resilience,” Bennett said.
Additionally, Jones guided the coordination of the past three Ammunition Transfer Holding Point events and the only Combat Repair Team event under the Ordnance Crucible, an annual competition showcasing technical and tactical skills. He also had a hand in revamping the Ordnance Training Exercise for students among a long list of other accomplishments. Despite those achievements, Jones was best at being an advocate, Bennett acknowledged.
“More than all of that, CSM Jones has been a voice for the Soldiers of this command and has worked tirelessly to improve their quality of life.”
After the ceremony, Jones, who has spent the bulk of his career in deployable units, said he harbored certain perceptions about Soldiers in training environments but is departing with a change in thought.
“I have been surprised by the resiliency of the new Soldiers we have coming in, so it kind of restored my confidence in the Army’s future,” he said. “These Soldiers are smart, intelligent and independent thinkers, but they get a lot of flak for being millennials.”
Aside from a fuller comprehension of the training mission, Jones acknowledged the work of the cadre, both past and present, Army Civilians and others who supported his tenure. He also noted how his success can be further attributed to his wife Drucilla and their two children.
Jones’ next duty assignment will take him to the familiar grounds of Fort Bragg, N.C. There, he will support the mission of the 528th Sustainment Brigade (Special Operations, Airborne), an element of the Army Special Operations Command.