USAMRMC Says Farewell to Command Sgt. Maj. Stuart
"Be All You Can Be," the Army's recruiting slogan for more than 20 years, has been the mantra that USAMRMC Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin B. Stuart has lived by throughout his 32-year-career in the Army.
Stuart drew his distinguished career to a close, transferring the NCO saber to Command Sgt. Maj. Cy Akana at a Change of Responsibility ceremony at Fort Detrick Oct. 31.
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Stuart attended Coolidge High School and Strayer University for a year, where he majored in business. After working at a community resident facility, he considered joining a job corps where he would learn a trade.
What happened next was serendipity, according to Stuart.
One afternoon at the mall, Stuart happened upon a recruiting office for the Marines.
"I was just curious," said Stuart. "I had never thought about joining the military prior to that."
Fortunately for the Army, he was told that it would take years to be in-processed through the Marines and personnel at the Air Force recruitment desk kept him waiting for more than two hours.
So Stuart walked through the U.S. Army recruitment office doors. Once the recruiter explained to Stuart that the Army would provide training, room and board and could take him "as of yesterday," he was sold.
Stuart entered the Army October 1981. He completed basic combat training at Fort McClellan, Ala. and Advanced Individual Training as a 91B, Medical Specialist, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. His military education spanned a broad spectrum of medical and leadership courses, including the Basic Medical Specialist Course, Drill Sergeant Course, and Battle Staff Course.
Although he served in many places and positions throughout his 32-year-career, his longest tour was five years in the Republic of Korea - an experience he said he will never forget. On one occasion, while conducting a training exercise by the Korean demilitarized zone, the unit unexpectedly heard an explosion. Unbeknownst to the unit, the site was littered with land mines. A soldier inadvertently tripped a land mine severely cutting his leg. The unit was ordered to sweep for mines, which meant leaving the injured soldier down unattended for hours.
"I was serving as medic at the time and I knew I couldn't leave him there," said Stuart.
Without hesitation Stuart and a second line leader disobeyed orders and ran to their fallen comrade.
By the time they retrieved the soldier he had lost a lot of blood. They raced back to base along a makeshift road strewn with divots and potholes.
Stuart tried to insert an intravenous line, and missed. Praying for a miracle he probed again and succeeded.
"I could see the life coming back to him," Stuart recalled, proudly.
The soldier survived. Stuart later learned that doctors were able to save his leg.
Years later, Stuart's job was quite different. In October 2010, Stuart became the Command Sergeant Major at Fort Detrick where he served as an advisor to the commanding general, leaders, soldiers and civilians. His job was to oversee standards and discipline, but also to ensure his team had the resources to effectively perform with confidence.
Stuart saw USAMRMC achieve many milestones during his tenure. He recalled when the command in October 2011 reinstituted a critical adenovirus vaccine program for service members in basic training. Adenoviruses can cause respiratory disease and certain strains may even be life-threatening. The vaccine is fast, effective and safe, dramatically reducing the risk of infections in new recruits.
Stuart said USAMRMC's success was due to the organization's focus on collaboration. "We have a good cohesive team," said Stuart. "Even though we have distinct missions, we come together very well."
This spirit of collaboration and leadership has also led Stuart to be involved in many activities outside the Fort Detrick gates. Stuart currently volunteers with several organizations, including a local soup kitchen, the Boys and Girls Club in Frederick, and Habitat for Humanity. In fact, he was named Volunteer of the Year at Fort Detrick in 2012.
Stuart said he will continue his volunteer work during his retirement, looking forward to what the future brings.
"I am thankful for the opportunities I've had to see people grow, challenge themselves and rise in rank," reflects Stuart. "That's a good feeling, especially if you had a hand in itâ?¦good thing for our militaryâ?¦leaving it in good hands."