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Medical Readiness and Training Command welcomes a new command sergeant major

By Lt. Col. Michele Sutak | Army Reserve Medical Command | Sept. 25, 2015

September 24, 2015 — PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - Inside the massive drill hall here at the Army Reserve Medical Command Headquarters, Command Sgt. Maj. Marlo V. Cross, a Tempe, Arizona, native, relinquished his responsibility as the senior enlisted Soldier of the Medical Readiness and Training Command to Command Sgt. Maj. Juan M. Loera Jr, a native of Seattle, Sept. 24, 2015.  
 
Members of the audience comprised of commanders and command sergeants majors of ARMEDCOM, to include, the four Medical Area Readiness Support Groups, AMEDD Army Professional Management Command, Medical Readiness and Training Command, and Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, ARMEDCOM.

Distinguished guests include promotable Brig. Gen. Mary E. Link, deputy commanding general, promotable Col. Tracy L. Smith, outgoing chief of staff, Col. Elizabeth Baker, incoming chief of staff, Command Sgt. Maj. Harold P. Estabrooks, the command sergeant major of ARMEDCOM and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert B. Breck, command sergeant major of the 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support).

The change of responsibility is a traditional event that is rich with symbolism and heritage dating back to the medieval times. The responsibilities for the training and welfare of the Soldiers are passed from the outgoing senior enlisted of the unit to the incoming utilizing the noncommissioned officer's sword. The NCO sword was adopted by the War Department in 1840. It was a completely functional weapon, not intended for display, but rather for hard and dedicated use. While no longer part of the Army's inventory, American Sergeants wore it for over 70 years during the Mexican-American war, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.

The passing of the sword signifies the relinquishing of responsibility and authority from the outgoing and incoming command sergeant major. The sword represents the "cutting edge" of professionalism and the living spirit of the organization and its mission. Cross received the NCO sword with sheath from the sword custodian, Staff Sgt. Jamie Stockton, assigned to the ARMEDCOM surgeon section, ARMEDCOM. Cross proceeded to unsheathe it 6-10 inches, examines the sword, indicating that the blade is sharp, unscathed and ready for use. Leaving the sword out of its sheath, Cross surrendered the sword to Brig. Gen. Michael C. O'Guinn, the commanding general of MRTC.

O'Guinn, a native of Newark, Ohio, accepts the NCO sword expressing gratitude for his faithful service, releasing Cross from his responsibilities with great respect and gratitude. He turned slightly to his left, and with the following charge - 'let it be known from this day forward, I charge you to commit yourself to the provision of sound advice to the Command and the care and compassion for all Soldiers, civilians and their families' - officially delegates his authority, entrusting him with the responsibility and care of the unit. Loera exposes most of the blade reaffirming its readiness, then drove it home, indicating his acceptance of the challenge to strive for excellence, fully support the command's personnel and their families and take on all missions assigned.

After the sword exchange, O'Guinn addressed the podium and thanked Cross for his dedication and service to the command. He stated that the 'good thing' was that Cross was not going far and was taking the position of command sergeant major for the Army Reserve Medical Command Sept. 26. O'Guinn remarked of Cross' leadership and professional concern for the health and welfare of his Soldiers while continually completing missions, surpassing expectations. He then turned to CSM Loera, paused, and said that he had some 'big' shoes to fill, but he would not have been selected if the task given would be too great.

Cross addressed the audience, first with thanking his wife, Yvonne, for her undying support.
 
"I could not have gotten this far in his military career without the full love and support from my lovely wife," he expressed.

Cross proceeded with thanking O'Guinn, and the MRTC staff present for their support over the past three years, remarking that the collective training and administrative experiences they all have weathered through has prepared him for his next assignment.

Loera gave a most direct and impacting speech, once he acknowledged the deputy commanding general and O'Guinn, he stated, "SOPs [standard operating procedures] are still in effect."

Loera began his military career in June of 1981 as a Marine, then joined the Army Reserve in 1986. He was promoted to command sergeant major after 12 years of service, which indicates his qualifications and experiences molded him well. Besides his various military assignments, Loera has been a peace officer for over 25 years and serves as the team leader for the regional Tactical Response Team Snipers and as an operator for the TRT. Loera is married with three children and two grandchildren.

The MRTC is the key organization in the Army Reserve responsible for ensuring all medical personnel are properly trained and ready for mobilization or deployment anywhere in the world. Since its activation in October of 2005, it integrates with the U.S. Army Medical Command and the Army Medical Department Center and School, located at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, providing oversight of individual training and technical assistance for this training and validation of Army Reserve units dispersed throughout the continental United States.