Kaiserslautern Soldiers visit with Army’s senior NCO

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

As Spc. Andrew Boyce scrambled to set up a communication tower, the Army’s senior enlisted leader, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, was watching.

Afterward, Chandler spoke candidly to Soldiers in Boyce’s unit, Battery D, 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery, about proposed changes to Army re-enlistment and physical fitness standards. Chandler also stressed Soldiers’ need to focus on character, commitment and competence and noncommissioned officers’ responsibilities to enforce Army standards.

“He explained a lot of stuff that I’ve been reading about, but in more depth,” Boyce said. “It puts more perspective on what I have to do as a Soldier to reach the NCO ranks.”

U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern was the final stop for Chandler and his wife, Jeanne, who arrived in Germany March 5 and visited commands in Heidelberg, Grafenwöhr, Vilseck, Hohenfels and Wiesbaden.

At Landstuhl, Chandler met with troops wounded in Afghanistan, medical Soldiers assigned to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and patient liaisons — NCOs representing deployed units who support wounded warriors at LRMC.

Later, at Rhine Ordnance Barracks, Chandler watched Battery D’s air defenders set up their Patriot missile batteries, a command post and a radar tower. Afterward, Chandler held a town hall meeting at Vogelweh’s Galaxy Theater.

Troops asked Chandler about changes to the physical fitness test, the drawdown of U.S. troops in Europe and new re-enlistment standards. Committed, competent Soldiers should have no problem re-enlisting, Chandler said.

“What we have to focus on is character and commitment. I need you to understand what that means to you,” Chandler said. “Are you doing the things you’re supposed to do when no one’s looking? That’s character.”

Chandler’s discussion resonated with Pfc. Jeremy O’Shea, 20, of Fairfax, Calif., who’s been in the Army roughly two years.

“It brought to light changes in the Army and gave it face,” O’Shea said. “It put into perspective how it’s going to affect me day to day.”

Chandler’s visit showed that the “higher ups” care about lower ranking troops, said Pfc. Adam Krampen, a Buffalo, N.Y. native who helped assemble the Battery D command post.

“It means a lot to me,” Krampen said. “I’m proud to have met him.”