The U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker welcomed a new command sergeant major during a change of responsibility ceremony on Tuesday, June 25.

Command Sgt. Maj. William L. Gardner II took over responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Ernest D. Bowen Jr., who has served in the command sergeant major position for over two years. Commanding General of the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center Brigadier General Timothy J. Daugherty presided over the ceremony.

“Command Sgt. Maj. (Ernest) Bowen has served at the CRC for almost two-and-a-half years,” Daugherty said. “Throughout the time that I’ve had the opportunity to serve with him, he has truly epitomized what selfless service is all about.

“From a duty perspective, Command Sgt. Maj. Bowen has led a relentless pursuit at the CRC to help reduce the number of preventable accidents that occur in the Army. While doing so, he always ensured there was a solid and fair working environment for all our team members to be a part of. Command Sgt. Maj. (Bowen), there was not a doubt in my mind that you were missioning people, all the time missioning people.”

He thanked Bowen for being “a terrific sounding board,” listening to the team members and “working tirelessly” to prevent loss.

“Finally, thanks command sergeant major for having such an honorable and purposeful career,” he said.

Daugherty said he has admired the career of incoming Command Sgt. Maj. William L. Gardner II for several years.

“I’ve noticed his candor,” Daugherty said. “I’ve noticed his effort level; I’ve noticed how he doesn’t feel compelled to pile on tons of bravado when he makes a point.”

Daugherty said Gardner was the perfect choice for a leader at the CRC.

“I am so proud to have you and your family on board and grateful to have a soldier of your caliber joining our team,” he said.

Command Sgt. Maj. Ernest D. Bowen thanked several people, most especially his wife, for helping and supporting him in this position, even while serving in this position for longer than expected.

“I wouldn’t change a thing about it,” he said. “I’m thankful for many things.”

He said he came to appreciate his role and life at Fort Rucker.

“When I got here and I realized the significance of what this organization does, I was quickly humbled,” he said. “I’ve never been more proud to serve in an organization that has such an honest mission of saving soldiers’ lives by just simply, sometimes, letting people know that they’re doing stupid things.

“I was humbled, and I’ve absolutely enjoyed my time.”

He thanked Maj. Gen. David J. Francis for taking the first steps to open the doors of the CRC to the rest of the Army.

“When you showed up, you quickly realized what I realized, that the CRC was not really speaking outside of the organization,” Bowen said. “We got away from that. We opened up the doors and started talking to the Army so that we were a resource.”

He thanked Daugherty for continuing “on an idea that the CRC is a resource for everybody,” and thanked the civilian members of the CRC for their work with the organization and the effect they have on the Army.

He also welcomed Gardner and his family to the CRC family.

“When I found out that you had been selected (for this position), I got really excited,” he said. “We don’t know each other well. In the times that we have been together, I tell you that you are exactly the kind of person I would want to be around because of your experience and, simply, your love of the Army.”

He said he hoped Gardner found the position just as “rewarding” as he did.

Gardner said he and his family were “honored” for the opportunity to serve the CRC and the Army, especially at Fort Rucker.

“I can’t remember a better welcome from anywhere (my wife and I) have served during our time in the Army,” he said. “I want to just highlight how important that has been. It absolutely made us feel like we belong here.”

He said he was “over the moon” to work with Daugherty.

“I’m already enjoying the work environment you have created here, and I thank you for the times ahead,” he said.

He called Bowen a “professional soldier,” who he said will be missed at the CRC. He then thanked family and friends who have supported him throughout his military career.

“To the men and women of the CRC, I’m honored to serve with you,” he said. “I can’t wait to get started.”

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