Soldiers, Friends and Families of Team 21 welcomed Command Sgt. Maj. Kofie Primus, senior enlisted adviser, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, June 3 as he succeeded Command Sgt. Maj. Sean Howard during a change of responsibility ceremony on Daenner Field.
This is a huge day for both Sergeant’s Major, but this is especially true for Howard as this is the end of a 32-year Army journey.
Maj. Gen. James Smith, commanding general, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, gave him high praise on his Army career and tenure within the command as he compared him to Maj. Gen. Charles Draper William Canham, who was one of the first to land at Omaha Beach during WWII and later became the deputy commander of the 8th Infantry Division.
Historically, Maj. Gen. Canham was accompanied by two of his Soldiers to receive the surrender of the Germans at the German command headquarters of General Ramcke.
Upon entrance of that headquarters, he was stopped and asked for his credentials by General Ramcke.
Without hesitation, he turned to his Soldiers and told General Ramcke that these were his credentials.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Howard these Soldiers out here on the parade field and the thousands more they represent are your credentials. I’ve heard this is how you wanted to end an illustrious 32-year career, with your Soldiers by your side. You’ve done that.”
Yet, in his true fashion, Howard marched right up to the podium and gave every bit of credit to his Soldiers.
“Maj. Gen. Smith thank you for these kind and sincere words,” said Howard. “I truly feel that I’m not worthy of them that’s just how I feel. The real heroes are out there on this field. That’s just how I was raised.”
Serving in five decades and six presidential administrations that very well may be true.
Howard enlisted in 1989 as a wheeled vehicle mechanic. From serving in Desert Storm and taking cover from SCUD missiles to his multiple deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom he has deployed 8 times in service to this nation.
Yet, his time at Team 21 is where he truly shined.
Howard was at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic for the unit making countless inspiring videos, physically checking on his Soldiers’ welfare and reassuring Families during town hall discussions bringing hope and inspiration to the theater.
His true care for his Soldiers during times of limited movement and restricted access during the pandemic was shown through his actions by personally leading the improvement of 22 Forward Operating Sites with high-speed Wifi access, brand new gym equipment and state of the art recreation centers to boost the morale during stressful times all over the world for our deployed Soldiers that they continue to enjoy today.
Howard carried that same People First mentality while making history during Operation Allies Welcome. His treatment of the Afghan travelers was equal to the same empathy and compassion given to his Soldiers.
“I personally witnessed you care for the over 10,000 Afghan travelers we had in our care at Rhine Ordnance Barracks, a hefty portion of the 30,000 travelers that entered through Ramstein Air Base,” said Smith. “No matter the operation and task that was given to this unit, you always selflessly put People First. Our Soldiers are successful today because they know you cared for them every day, without fail or thought of personal gain; you even cared for them more than you cared about your own welfare.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Howard again addressed these accolades and thanked the Soldiers for making it all possible.
“To all the G-Staff, Colonels, and Sergeants Major this is the most organized professional resilient group of leaders I have ever had the privilege to serve with,” said Howard. “From the bottom of my heart thank you for all your countless hours of sacrifices you’ve made over the last 30 months that I’ve had the privilege to watch you perform at the highest of levels day in and day out. You made all this possible. Not me.”
Howard will now travel to his hometown of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and finally, take a knee and provide himself with plenty of self-care with his family as he will enjoy his retirement.
Command Sgt. Maj. Primus will pick up where Howard left off and continue to care for Team 21 Soldiers.
He is no stranger to this command as he just relinquished responsibility of the 405th Army Field Support Brigade, where he too, made history.
Primus was instrumental in helping Team 21 through two Defender rotations, supporting over 22,000 Afghan travelers during Operation Allies Welcome, and fully activating all of 405th AFSB’s Army Pre-Positioned Stocks for the first time in the unit’s history in support of operations in Ukraine.
Witnessing Primus’s hard work and leadership firsthand, Maj. Gen. Smith gives his new battle buddy a warm welcome.
“Catrina and I welcome you, your wife Genesis, and your two sons Cristian and Caiden here today,” said Smith. “I look forward to leading our team to many successes with you, and I know you will take this team to new heights.”
Primus, filled with gratitude, gave thanks to the command and the Soldiers for the opportunity to lead again within the unit.
“Sir, thank you for the trust and confidence and for the opportunity to lead such a world-class organization that continuously makes things happen for U.S. Army Europe and our NATO Allies,” said Primus. “I look forward to serving alongside you, the Soldiers, DA Civilians, and the Family members of Team 21.”
In great Army tradition as one impactful leader leaves, another one replaces the void and carries the team forward. Team 21 will now continue to set the theater in Europe and Africa under Primus’ wise counsel and leadership.