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NEWS | Dec. 20, 2016

Signal Officer moves up into general officer ranks

By Sgt. 1st Class Brent Powell 335th Signal Command (Theater)

General Lucius D. Clay National Guard Center, Marietta, Georgia – Promotions are pretty common place in today’s military, but its not everyday a Soldier steps into the top leadership role and increased responsibility of the general officer ranks.

However, that is exactly what newly promoted Brig. Gen. Nikki L. Griffin-Olive, deputy commanding general of sustainment, 335th Signal Command (Theater), did here Dec. 16 during a promotion ceremony attended by her family, friends and fellow Soldiers.

Hosting the ceremony was Brig. Gen. (Retired) Christopher R. Kemp, former commander of the 335th SC (T).  

“What a great day,” he said.  “In this room we (the military) collectively represent about one percent of the American population, add to that the promotion Nikki is about to receive accounts for about one percent of one percent, and top that off with the fact that there are not a lot of females in the general officer ranks, and you will understand that this achievement speaks volumes about the lady that sits before you today.

She is a true warrior, a difference maker and in my mind a very solid ethics based leader,” he said. “If you want someone to model your life after, Nikki Griffin-Olive is that person.”

After Kemp’s introduction, the promotion orders were read and members of Olive’s family came forward and took turns replacing the colonel rank insignia on her dress uniform with the one star insignia of a brigadier general.

Next, Olive was presented with a ceremonial general officer belt by Col. (Retired) Chuck Nichols, who served as the assistant chief of staff for G-3 during his assignment to the 335th SC (T).  The belt has a long history for officers dating from World War II when their belts were used to carry sabers.

After receiving the belt, Sgt. Maj. Michael A. Crespo, G-6 sergeant major assigned to the 79th Theater Sustainment Command, presented Olive with a general officer’s Model M9 pistol.  Tradition holds that the pistol is loaned to the general officer until retirement, when they have the option to return or purchase it.

Next Olive and her husband, Col. Jeffrey A. Olive, commander of the 122nd Regional Training Institute, along with assistance from Sgt. Maj. Mike P. Irvin, an instructor at the U.S. Army Sergeant Major Academy and Sgt. Maj. Charlie Mathews (Retired), former operations sergeant major at the 335th SC (T) uncased the brigadier general officer flag.

Once the flag had been unfurled, Olive, a native of Spokane, Washington, took the opportunity to address those in attendance.  “I am still in shock and disbelief that I’m here today, because there are so many qualified, dedicated, hard-working, smart, sharp people in this business,” she said.   “But I know the reason I’m here is because of all the support, love, dedication and sacrifice that all of you have made for me.  I’ve been fortunate to have been surrounded by absolutely amazing, officers, leaders, noncommissioned officers, warrant officers and families.”

Olive went on to thank Kemp for his mentorship, the audience for their attendance, and she thanked her family for their sacrifice, support and understanding.

Olive concluded the ceremony with her favorite quote from Theodore Roosevelt.  “Far and away the best prize life has to offer is to work hard at work worth doing,” she said.  “And there is no doubt that this work is worth doing.”