Soldiers, Family Members and Civilian Employees gathered Monday to bid farewell to one senior leader and to welcome another. Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas W. Geddings assumed his new post as Fort Drum’s senior enlisted adviser from Command Sgt. Maj. Mark H. Oldroyd during a ceremony at Magrath Sports Complex.
Oldroyd relinquished his position ahead of his upcoming retirement.
In his most recent assignment, Geddings served as command sergeant major for 579th Forward Engineer Support Detachment in Vicksburg, Miss.
Garrison Soldiers and Civilians stood in formation as the passing of the sword officially marked the change of responsibility. Oldroyd passed the noncommissioned officer sword to Col. Gary A. Rosenberg, Fort Drum garrison commander, who then presented the sword to Geddings.
The War Department adopted the NCO sword in 1840 – not for display, but for hard, dedicated use. NCOs wore the sword for the next 70 years during the Mexican-American War, Civil War and Spanish-American War.
“Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee,” said Rosenberg, quoting John Donne’s 1624 poem, “For whom the bell tolls.”
“It serves as a fitting reminder for the garrison command sergeant major,” he said. “The success of an Army garrison is a group effort, but it’s also a garrison command sergeant major’s personal responsibility.”
The garrison senior enlisted adviser is involved in everything that goes on at Fort Drum and serves as the liaison between Soldiers and their Families and the Civilian workforce, Rosenberg noted. Serving as the garrison command sergeant major requires good listening skills and takes compassion, agility and understanding.
“(It requires) time behind a desk, but even more time out with Soldiers, Family Members and Civilians,” Rosenberg said. “Unfortunately, … that translates into very little time spent with his own Family.
“Being the garrison command sergeant major boils down to being the most approachable, fair-minded, connected, motivate, energetic, regulation-knowing and standard-enforcing individual on the installation,” he continued.
During Rosenberg’s tenure as Fort Drum garrison commander, he said Oldroyd’s experience, compassion and genuine interest in the community’s well-being has made him a “standard-setting” example.
“He’s raised the bar to an even higher level of excellence,” he said. “I’ve looked to him countless times for impacts of the mission, feelings of a population (and) adequacy of services.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Oldroyd didn’t just give me data; he gave me timely, accurate, useable and meaningful information. There is no greater commodity to a commander,” Rosenberg added.
Rosenberg wished Oldroyd well in his new endeavors and retirement and thanked him for everything he has done and the legacy he leaves.
“As you transition with Command Sgt. Maj. Tom Geddings, I know that your performance has set a standard well worth maintaining,” he said. “The next two years are going to be exciting. There are many changes on the horizon.”
Rosenberg added that he is confident that Geddings is up for the challenge and is the right person for the job as he looks toward the future.
“Although it will be a great deal of hard work, you recognize that you are the wealthiest of all leaders in the Army,” he said. “You were chosen to serve here with the Army’s best Civilian workforce and the Army’s best division.”
Oldroyd, who joined the Army nearly 30 years ago as a cavalry scout, will retire in Castorland. Since arriving at Fort Drum in 2007, Oldroyd served as the division G-3 operations sergeant and as senior enlisted adviser for 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team before becoming the garrison command sergeant major.
Oldroyd said he had two tasks during his remarks – to say “thank you” and to say “goodbye.” In the Army, Soldiers and Families rarely say “goodbye,” but say “see you later.” Regardless of how many years have passed, it’s easy to pick right up where they left off.
“Time drops away and we’re always able to reconnect quickly, even if we can’t remember each other’s names,” Oldroyd said. “Today, I say ‘see you later.’”
Oldroyd said his primary objective was to thank garrison directors, Civilian Employees and community members. He also thanked the 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum garrison command teams for their leadership and support.
Lastly, Oldroyd thanked his Family – his wife, Karen, and daughters, Tessa and Taylor.
“Karen, you’re my rock and I can always follow your laugh to find where you are,” he said.
Oldroyd thanked his daughters for their trust as they accompanied him on his Army journey.
“This position has been a significant learning curve for me; one that I have learned a great appreciation of what it takes to make an installation work and run,” he said. “Fort Drum is tremendously successful because of the people.”
Geddings was last to approach the lectern. After thanking the Oldroyds for their warm North Country welcome, he admitted that he has “very large shoes to fill.”
He added that he and his wife, Danielle, were up for the challenge and they hope to build on all the good things the Oldroyds have done.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank all the Soldiers and Civilians standing in front of us,” Geddings. “They make this a professional event, and they look awesome out there. You look great, and I really appreciate it.
“I am excited to join the team,” he added. “Col. Rosenberg, I am extremely honored to take on this position and I will give you, the Soldiers and Families of this installation 110 percent. You can count on it.”