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NEWS | Oct. 4, 2019

Army Medicine’s Noncommissioned Officer Academy welcomes new commandant

By Jose E. Rodriguez U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence Public Affairs

The U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, or MEDCoE, at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston hosted a Noncommissioned Officer Academy, or NCOA, change of commandant ceremony Oct. 2, where Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Earle became the 15th NCOA Commandant, assuming the post from Command Sgt. Maj. Napoleon Noguera-Payan.

Maj. Gen. Patrick D. Sargent, MEDCoE commanding general, officiated over the ceremony that was conducted at the Army Medicine Museum.

Noguera-Payan has been an inspirational leader at the NCOA for the last three years and had a distinguished 30-year Army career, with service in various other leadership positions in mechanized infantry, light infantry and armor units.

Earle comes to the NCOA with a breadth of experience having served at numerous stateside and overseas assignments. His most recent position was serving as the Sergeant Major for the Army Medical Department Personnel Proponent Directorate, or APPD.

“This is a change of responsibility, not simply a change of authority,” Sargent said. “Today, we pay tribute to Command Sgt. Maj. Noguera. This is a Soldier who has led the NCOA with honor and distinction for the past three years,” Sargent said. “Simply put, Napoleon is one of the most well-rounded, forward-leaning, and high-performing leaders I have worked with in my 34 years.”

Noguera-Payan reflected on his impoverished childhood as the youngest of 13 children in Nicaragua. He spoke of his mother who didn’t know how to read or write but made him go to school, even when they couldn’t afford shoes for his feet, and how he grew up working in fields to afford money to eat. 

“But I tell you this not to feel sorry for me, but because that taught me a valuable lesson,” Noguera-Payan said. “That taught me the meaning of an honest day’s work, of humility, and appreciating the good things in life.

“I forever have a debt of gratitude to have the opportunity that I’ve had here to serve in the United States Army,” he said. “To be a leader in the most lethal Army in the world.”

Noguero-Payan told his successor that he didn’t need to focus on “filling shoes” because assuming the commandant position was not about what the person before him has accomplished. “It’s about developing NCOs that are agile, adaptable and flexible, that understand mission command so that they can make decisions on their own.”

During his remarks, Earle thanked Sargent and MEDCoE Command Sgt. Maj. William O’Neal for their faith and confidence in his leadership potential to lead such a diverse and stalwart organization. 

“Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to meet the truly amazing NCOs, civilians and contractors that go above and beyond each day to make our NCO Academy the premier organization that it is,” Earle said. “Sgt. Maj. Noguera-Payan, in your comments you asked a question of how we are going to represent those Soldiers that came before us. I can tell you we are going to do it well, I promise you that.”