Top enlisted Soldier visits LRMC

Spc. Todd Goodman, Story and photo
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

***image1***“Keep your hands up if you eat grits,” said Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, the top enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  “Now, keep ‘em up if you put sugar on your grits.” Several Marines kept their hands up. “What in the heck is wrong with ya’ll?

That’s worse than French kissing your grandmother where I come from.”
Such was the tone of his Jan. 18 visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

The South Carolina native was quick to point out that he did, indeed, grow up in the South and was interested to know where the people he met on his trip called home.

According to him, the only way to really know a person is to know where they grew up.

CSM Gainey’s position was 15 years in the making and is the first of its kind. It’s a newly created position established to advise the chairman on matters of professional development of enlisted personnel for a joint environment. Four top sgt. majors from the Marine Corps, Navy, Army and Air Force were chosen, then evaluated by a board of four-star generals, eventually choosing CSM Gainey.

“Gen. Peter Pace, the first Marine to hold the position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he couldn’t do his job without a battle buddy,” said CSM Gainey. “For some strange reason they chose me, so now I get to joke around with Marines, Sailors, Airmen, Soldiers and Coastguardsmen. That is what it’s all about.”

Upon arrival, the top dog had lunch in LRMC’s Kirchberg Room with about 50 servicemembers encompassing the four military branches.

The lunch was part serious talk and part funny, as he joked freely with each person. At the end, he stood up, walked around the room and handed his coin to everyone in attendance.

And after the coining, he stood at the head of the table and asked everyone to raise his right hand. “Repeat after me,” he said. “I, state your name, will not sell this coin on Ebay or to any pawn shop.”

CSM Gainey’s behavior went over quite well and made a lasting impression on the personnel he encountered. Spc. Christopher Towns, Delta Battery 2-44 Air Defense Artillery in Iraq, said he was surprised by the candor and relaxed nature of CSM Gainey.

“I can’t believe how laid back he was,” said Spc. Towns, seated in a wheel chair due to a knee injury. “I’m really glad I was able to hear him speak.”

After the luncheon, CSM Gainey took his enthusiasm to the Intensive Care Unit and the patient wards.

“I want to tell all of our injured troops that I am proud to be on their team,” he said. “They are providing freedom for other parts of the world and their injuries are not a waste. It is important that they know that.”