Greetings from Ft. Leavenworth Kansas. I am staying in the Summerall suite in Otis Hall, named after Floridian, West Point graduate, Artilleryman, World War I veteran, Chief of Staff of the Army, and President of The Citadel’ General Charles Pelot Summerall.
I’m here to take part in a very special ceremony, a ceremony that continues a legacy. In America there are many different types of legacies — sports, entertainment, business, political — but none compare to the legacy of arms. It is a legacy that traces the men and women who have been willing to be the “watchmen on the walls'” those very special Guardians who ensure the others have the freedom and liberties they often take for granted.
There are times it is a thankless legacy, but for those who do follow the path, it is not for accolades. They do it because, well, it is a conviction like no other.
So today, January 10, 2014 at 3pm, I will have the distinct honor and pleasure to participate in the promotion ceremony of my nephew to the rank of Field Grade officer, Major.
I was promoted to Major in 1995 in Camp Casey Korea, so there was no family there for me, and my parents had both passed.
Young Herman Bernard West II will be surrounded by his loving family and we will all witness a legacy that began with a simple man, Corporal Herman West Sr. of Cuthbert Georgia. My dad’s nickname was “Buck” and I remember the day when ol’ Buck West told me he wanted an officer in the family. I took up that mantle and now today, the little fella I used to bounce on my knee is about to become the second field grade level officer in the family–an artilleryman and a paratrooper.
Bernie was there on 6 June 2002 at the change of command ceremony where I took command of an artillery battalion in the 4th Infantry Division. Later that day’ he confided in me that he wanted to be an artilleryman like his uncle. At the time, he was a Cadet at North Georgia College in Dahlonega.
I know Buck West will be looking down today, Mom by his side, and smiling. Dad, your legacy of service, sacrifice, and commitment to this nation continues, now four generations. I thank you, and a grateful nation thanks you.
Steadfast and Loyal.