I Corps Soldiers, civilians and families bid farewell to Command Sgt. Maj. James Norman III as he transferred his duties as I Corps command sergeant major during a change of responsibility ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Tuesday.
As Norman passed the I Corps colors to the incoming command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Grinston, he also said goodbye to the Army after 35 years of service.
During his speech, Norman reflected on a career that started at the same place it ended — JBLM — coming full circle from a private in the 109th Military Intelligence Battalion witnessing the activation of I Corps in 1981.
“Not only am I changing out as I Corps command sergeant major, but this is my last formation,” Norman said. “It is a bittersweet day, but one that comes for everyone. I can rest assured and be proud knowing the troopers I leave ‘saddled up’ are the best I could have hoped for, because missions never stop.”
Norman is the fourth generation of his family to serve in the military — his nephew, assigned to 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, begins the family’s fifth generation of Army service.
Norman’s career included positions in 16 different units spanning the continental United States, three countries and numerous deployments.
Lieutenant General Stephen Lanza, I Corps commanding general, said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey was one of the many senior Army leaders from around the world to reach out to Norman, as well as the vice chief of staff of the Army. General Daniel Allyn attributed his success to Norman’s vision.
“Few (noncommissioned officers) I’ve worked with personify that no one is more professional than I,” Allyn said. “He is a true professional whose actions match his deeds.”
Lanza said Norman was instrumental at operationalizing I Corps and rebalancing in the Pacific. His contributions made a significant impact allowing his legacy of leadership and dedication to the profession of arms to grow in future generations.
“Today is a day everyone dreads, transfer of authority from us to another,” Norman said. “In this institution that I love, transitions are necessary for an organization to progress.”
I Corps will build upon Norman’s accomplishments as Grinston accepts responsibility as the 16th I Corps command sergeant major.
“I am very pleased and happy when Command Sergeant Major Grinston was selected to replace me,” Norman said. “He is the right person to move the corps forward.”
Like Norman, Grinston is returning to his first duty station where he served as a cannon crewmember with 1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery Regiment in 1987.
“It is truly an honor to return to my first duty station,” Grinston said. “I will maintain the standards already in place and do everything I can to provide commanders with ready Soldiers.”
Grinston arrived at JBLM from Fort Riley, Kan., where he was the 1st Infantry Division command sergeant major.