Thursday, September 2, 2010

Command Sergeant Major James D. Pippin

I really don't know where to begin.....
The sky was a beautiful blue; the gallery had our names indicating where we would sit; the field had a long line of soldiers....some on horses....some with flags....some playing instruments; official cameras were rolling; microphones in place.  You see, family and friends of Command Sergeant Major James Pippin, had gathered to see him pass the colors of  the 3rd Brigade Combat Team "Greywolf', 1st Cavalry Division of the United States Army, to his successor.   CSM Pippin is the nephew of my late husband and has always held a special place in my heart.....probably because he has always looked so much like my husband did at every age.

As I was waiting for the ceremony to begin I was thinking about the night before, when some of his men had been at the Officer's Club    Accolades abounded and when it was his turn to speak....this very confident soldier had trouble beginning....during that very brief moment the words to a George Strait song came to mind.....'this is where the cowboy rides away'.....then as he began to speak he said that what he knew was how to be a soldier (he'd done so for almost 25 years) and there had never been a moment when he had regretted being a non-commissioned soldier.

I remembered, too, watching him play football for his Texas High School; hoping he would find good direction in his life...which he did;  attending his first Best Ranger competition where 14 family members ran along side every event for 3 days and remembering that in that competition he and his partner had 'aced' the events where they each had 100 live rounds of ammo shooting from a foxhole and the timed event of finding the sniper before the sniper found them....knowing those were two things that could keep him safe....and they did.  So, here we were, thankful he made it through, had risen to the highest rank for a non-commissioned officer and hoping at 47 he would have a full life....though very different....ahead of him.

The ceremony was great.....more accolades and jesting about his Texas heritage and characteristics that were his alone. The program listed many of his accomplishments: Sergeant Major Pippin is the only active duty serviceman to have conducted 3 Airborne, Combat jumps;  his last assignment with the 75th Ranger Regiment was Commandant of the Regiment's training detachment; there had been 2 deployments to Afghanistan and 3 to Iraq.   The colors were passed, the speeches given and I thought it was over......just as a covered wagon proclaiming 'First Team' and  a dozen or so of the mounted Cavalry came at a blazing speed across the field, shooting their pistols in the air.  What a finish!
                                              "Thank you for spending your life protecting us 
                                              from harm...both foreign and domestic."

Pippin Soldiers and Sister Denise
Col. Bradley Pippin and CSM James Pippin
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