JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
Command Sgt. Maj. Clark J. Charpentier assumed senior enlisted responsibility at the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence from Command Sgt. Maj. William "Buck" O'Neal in a ceremony Jan. 31. The ceremony was hosted by Maj. Gen. Dennis P. LeMaster, MEDCoE commander, at the MacArthur Parade Field at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
O'Neal departs the MEDCoE after serving at the organization since August 2017 and will retire after 29 years of military service.
The change of responsibility ceremony included the ceremonial passing of the MEDCoE colors to illustrate the passing of responsibility and leadership to Charpentier as the incoming command sergeant major. Nearly 200 soldiers, comprised of MEDCoE enlisted trainees, cadre or staff, were in formation.
LeMaster, who assumed command Jan. 10, served with both the outgoing and incoming senior enlisted advisors and praised both saying they were two extraordinary military leaders.
"It was fitting that this was his final assignment in the Army," LeMaster said of O'Neal. The general lauded O'Neal's operational and institutional experience at all different levels and many facets of Army Medicine.
"Command Sgt. Maj. O'Neal is a leader, leading an organization through turbulent but transformative times for Army Medicine,” LeMaster added. “He was the right noncommissioned officer at the right time."
LeMaster also noted O'Neal was an architect of the future as Army Medicine reshaped itself along with the Army's modernization plan and during O'Neal's tenure, the MEDCoE's focus has been on readiness and ensuring that the Army is ready for the future.
"He was instrumental in instituting an all-time high level of training rigor in order to produce disciplined and mentally tough Soldiers in Initial Entry Training, Professional Military Educational training, and the functional courses … so that they will be successful and able to fight today and support and win in large scale combat operations and a multi-domain operational environment," LeMaster said.
O'Neal also advised the command through the organization's transition from the U.S. Army Medical Command to the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, their redesignation from the Army Medical Department Center and School to the MEDCoE, and during many significant redesign efforts of enlisted initiatives to include revitalizing the Reserve Component Enlisted Promotion System and development of the new Reserve Component 68W combat medic sustainment program.
Charpentier is coming from the Regional Health Command-Pacific, or RHC-P, where the general and the sergeant major served as the command team together for 18 months.
"He is well suited to take us to the next level," LeMaster said of the incoming command sergeant major. “He is the right person, at the right time, and the right place to steward the organization to even greater success than they have already enjoyed.
"Sgt. Maj. (Charpentier), I am truly happy to serve with you again," LeMaster said. “We will have the opportunity to contribute to modernization, making a trained and ready medical force.”
Charpentier has led at every level in many complex military medical organizations in more than 26 years of military service. Besides RHC-P, the largest regional health command in the Army, Charpentier also served as command sergeant major for Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Regional Health Command-Europe, the only forward-stationed medical center for U.S. and coalition forces and the largest hospital outside of the continental U.S.
"Today you represent every medic across the Army,” Charpentier said to the formation.
MEDCoE, as the center of gravity for Army Medicine, trains, educates and inspires all medical personnel in the Army during some point of their career. They serve nearly 37,000 soldiers annually in more than 360 training and education programs annually, including everyone from combat medics, doctors, and veterinarians to food inspectors, medical technicians, and hospital administrators.
"At some point, most of you will be the one operating alone and unafraid, or as part of a team in an austere environment, saving lives," Charpentier said. He challenged the soldiers to train as if, not only their life, but someone else's life depended on it, "because it does and it will."
Charpentier emphasized, "The importance of the lessons that you learn today will have far reaching impacts in the future."