Kaiserslautern garrison welcomes new leader

Story and photo by Rick Scavetta
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

During a Sept. 30 change of responsibility ceremony on Kleber Kaserne, Command Sgt. Maj. Gene Canada assumed the role of senior enlisted leader at U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern.
Several senior leaders from Army and Air Force units in the KMC attended the event, as did Col. Bryan DeCoster, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg.

The highlight of the ceremony, which was held at the post gymnasium, was the traditional passing of the noncommissioned officer sword. Lt. Col. Lars Zetterstrom, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, thrust the blade toward Canada, pausing momentarily for serious, yet softly spoken words. 

“The NCO chain of responsibility and the role of the NCO is something that every military in the free world emulates,” Zetterstrom said during his remarks. “It’s truly the backbone of the Army and what makes our Army great.”

Taking that responsibility in Kaiserslautern will be the most rewarding and challenging job in Canada’s career, he said.

“This responsibility is not only to Soldiers, but to their families and this great community,” Canada said. “This job comes with the inherent responsibility to look past excuses and simply provide the best support … as well as form and sustain strong relationships between all organizations within the KMC.”

Canada, a native of Austin, Texas, began his career 24 years ago as an ammunition specialist. He’s since held every leadership position from squad leader to command sergeant major. In addition to completing all levels of the Noncommissioned Officers’ Education System, Canada also holds a degree of business administration from Columbia Southern University.

Canada arrived recently from the 4th Sustainment Brigade (Provisional), at Fort Hood, Texas, where he also served as command sergeant major. Early in his career, Canada was assigned to the Kaiserslautern area, serving at Camp Dahn, not far from Pirmasens. He’s also served overseas in Italy, Kosovo and Korea. Canada deployed three times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Master Sgt. Kenneth Wilson has served as acting command sergeant major following the July departure of Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Jessup. Wilson will now serve in the garrison’s public works directorate.

“The firsthand knowledge and experiences I have gained from the position will stay in my tool bag throughout the rest of my career,” Wilson said.