ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. –
The 85th U.S. Army Reserve Command held a change of responsibility followed by a retirement ceremony at its headquarters in Arlington Heights, Illinois, Aug. 14, 2021.
Among distinguished guests, Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew Lombardo, command sergeant major of the U.S. Army Reserve, was in attendance. Lombardo had favorable words for both outgoing Command Sgt. Maj. Theodore H. Dewitt and incoming Command Sgt. Maj. Steven J. Slee.
"Approximately one percent of Solders achieve the rank of sergeant major. Even fewer still the rank of command sergeant major. As a nominative sergeant major, CSM Dewitt is rare indeed. He is a consummate example of servant leadership. Through him countless Soldiers in the Army Reserve have benefited from his leadership. As we wish him farewell, we must remember that old Soldiers never die, they simply fade away,” said Lombardo. “To CSM Slee, who has served with me in the past, I have absolute confidence that your leadership will build cohesive and lethal Army Reserve squads. You know what is required."
Brig. Gen. Ernest Litynski, commanding general, 85th USARSC, and presiding officer, also spoke at the ceremony. He shared that Dewitt, like General George Washington, who prevented his Soldiers from marching on Congress to demand back pay by gunpoint in 1783, practiced servant leadership. Litynski stated that leaders such as Dewitt, and Slee have to balance the welfare of Soldiers with protecting the Constitution.
During the ceremony, Dewitt relinquished his command to Slee, who came to the 85th USARSC from the 78th Training Division. Slee entered the U.S. Army in 1982 and has served in numerous leadership positions from military policeman to command sergeant major. His assignments include a mobilization in support of Operations: Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom. His awards include the Bronze Star Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters.
Slee told Litynski, during brief remarks, that he was at the 85th USARSC to serve and that he is ready to fulfill on the priorities of the 85th USARSC as well as the Army Reserve. He then reflected on the Army’s first General Order.
“I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved,” said Slee.
Slee shared that this was the foundation to everything he did. He shared that the first General Order, to him, means to get the job done until the job is done and stated that he has always asked Soldiers who served with him to look at that general order and do the same.
“If we do our job until the job is done, then there’s nobody that can stop us,” Slee said.
The ceremony that followed was a retirement celebration for Dewitt who served as the 85th USARSC’s command sergeant major and honorably served in the U.S. Army for 36 years. Dewitt entered active duty in January 1985 and entered the U.S. Army Reserve in 1989. His previous assignments include command sergeant major, 63rd Regional Support Command, Moffett Field, Mountain View, California, and command sergeant major, 335th Signal Command (Theater) (Provisional), Kuwait. His awards include the Legion of Merit and three Army Commendation Medals. During the ceremony, DeWitt shared highlights of his career and added his fondest memories serving at the 85th USARSC. Lastly, he shared advice to the leaders in continuation of their service.
“Thirty-six years ago, I didn’t think I would be standing here. I am humbled to be here with you all. I love the Army and I’m grateful to have served with so many wonderful men and women. Today’s a great day to be a Soldier," said Dewitt.
Dewitt gave remarks thanking his wife, Nancy, and his sons Ryan and Tyler.
“I wouldn’t standing in front you today if it wasn’t for them. The capacity that this job entails without their love and care and support…they’re the ones who make the constant sacrifices, and that goes for every one of you in here today, whether it’s a deployment, (annual training), (temporary duty), and somebody’s got to sacrifice in your absence, and I truly appreciate that of each and every one of you,” Dewitt said.
He also thanked his mother, whom he called a “rock” in his life and his father, who Dewitt stated is “watching from above as is along with (my) father-in-law, two great veterans (with) multiple Vietnam tours.”
Last, he shared a few final sentiments to the Soldiers, families and guests there about Army service.
“Truly, I am blessed and honored to stand before you,” said Dewitt. “The Army is what it seems like, a lifelong adventure, but it goes fast, so stay in. I will forever be grateful to those who have made me a better person, leader, and a Soldier."