Story and photo by Dawn Arden
Public Affairs Office
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Oct. 4, 2018) — The U.S. Army Military Police School, joined by several past senior leaders, families and friends, celebrated 77 years of Military Police Corps history Sept. 24 through Saturday at Fort Leonard Wood.
Military Police Regimental Week officially began with a ceremony to reflect on those who gave their lives to protect their country.
This ceremony, held every year during the regimental week, is a Memorial Tribute to honor fallen Military Police Soldiers.
“They still speak to us. If you listen quietly, you can hear them,” said U.S. Army Military Police Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. James Breckinridge. “You remember their voices from the conversations you had before they gave their last measure of devotion to this nation.”
He added, “Look around and you will see their legacy. It is us, Americans gathered in a free society, unified in the common purpose of honoring uncommon bravery. We are their legacy.”
The Marine Corps Detachment at Fort Leonard Wood said farewell to Sgt. Maj. Jason Patrick and welcome to Sgt. Maj. Jason Gillespie, as the detachment’s newest sergeant major, during a Relief and Appointment Ceremony held Friday on Gammon Field.
Patrick came to Fort Leonard Wood in May 2014 and is slated to retire in February after 30 years of service.
Col. Ralph Rizzo Jr., United States Marine Corps Detachment Fort Leonard Wood commander, said it was obvious Patrick had no hesitation in spending his adult life in service to his nation.
“Sergeant Major, 66,000 Marines in four in a half years have been on your watch,” Rizzo said. “And in three short months, Marine, you have made an impression on me that will last a lifetime. Your dedication, your loyalty, your selflessness — you’re always placing the Marines in this unit up front. Well done, Marine, well done.”
Patrick said he owes his successful career to his fellow Marines.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and the only reason I was successful was because the Marines I served with — the Marines that were behind me lifting me up,” he said, adding that he knows Gillespie will do great things in his place.
Rizzo said he also knows Gillespie is up to task and looks forward to working with him.
“Good order, morale and discipline rests on your shoulders. There is mission, and there are Marines, and when you go to battle and all things are equal, morale will carry the day,” Rizzo said. “You can’t buy it, your cannot order it from you unit, but you must have its pulse — that is what the sergeant major brings to the command team.”
He added, “I always say you have two jobs, Sergeant Major; take care of the troops and take care of the commander. If you’re doing one you’re automatically doing the other.”
Gillespie said he is honored to be the the detachment’s new sergeant major and promised to give his all to the job.
“I asked to come back here. I was here about six years ago as a company first sergeant, and there were people here who made such an impact on my life that I wanted to come back,” Gillespie said. “The weight and responsibility of being the sergeant major of this detachment doesn’t weigh lightly on me. I’m going to take my job seriously, and I’m going to give you everything I have to make this place better.”
Gillespie comes to the detachment from Marine Wing Support Squadron 272 at New River Air Station, North Carolina, where he served as the squadron sergeant major.