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Face of Defense: Senior NCO Recalls Army Career

By Army Sgt. Quentin Johnson
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division

PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Oct. 21, 2013 – Stepping down from your last position of responsibility before retiring is a proud moment for most, but for Army Command Sgt. Maj. Philip Chepenik it’s more -- monumental, nostalgic and bittersweet.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Philip Chepenik, then command sergeant major of 2nd "Spartan" Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd "Black Jack" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, received the U.S. Army Bronze Star award for his deployment to Afghanistan with Black Jack, prior to the Spartan's change of responsibility ceremony on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Oct. 18, 2013. Chepenik will retire next year after 30 years of active Army service. U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Roderick Jones from Flint, Mich., replaced Chepenik as the Spartan's command sergeant major. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Quentin Johnson
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Chepenik relinquished responsibility as the senior enlisted advisor for the 2nd “Spartan” Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, at Bagram Air Field, Oct. 18, 2013, in preparation for his retirement next year after 30 years of Army service.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Roderick Jones from Flint, Mich., replaces Chepenik as the Spartan’s command sergeant major. Roderick’s previous assignment was with the 249th Engineer Battalion, Fort Belvoir, Va.

Chepenik said he began his career almost 30 years ago, serving with 2nd BCT’s, 8th Brigade Engineer Battalion, and will now retire from the same brigade. A change in life from a career he described as a “journey and unforgettable experience.”

“I acknowledge my time has come to an end. I began my journey in 1984, and the experiences I have had along the way will never leave me,” Chepenik said.

He said his experiences led him to be a better person and leader. Chepenik said he hopes has left a positive impact on those he met throughout his Army career.

“I have had the privilege of meeting individuals from around the world,” he said. “I just hope I have impacted the lives of those soldiers whom I have led throughout my tenure.”

Army Lt. Col. Archie Herndon, Spartan commander, said Chepenik’s impact on soldiers and friends throughout his career couldn’t be overstated.

“Few have had the impact on soldiers that [Chepenik] has had, for as long as he has had it,” Herndon said. “He did everything possible to care for our nation’s treasure, our sons and daughters.”

Herndon said Chepenik cared because he stayed true to the philosophy -- the Army is our family and we train and care for it first.

Chepenik said he was proud to have served and to be able to finish his career with such an amazing group of soldiers, and let each know he will not forget them.

“[Spartan soldiers] are an amazing group of soldiers and leaders that will forever be my family,” Chepenik said. “Whether it’s an e-mail, phone call or ‘hello’ in passing, the Spartan team will always be in my heart.”

Herndon closed with a resolution of thanks and gratitude towards Chepenik.

“Phil, thank you for everything you did for the Spartans, and your exceptional service,” Herndon said. “I look forward to our continued friendship, and a report on life after the Army; Godspeed brother.”

 

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