Outgoing state command sergeant major to retire after 41 years
By Spc. Tarell J. Bilbo, 241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
PINEVILLE, La. – The Louisiana National Guard welcomed Command Sgt. Maj. Robert J. Stiefvater as its new senior enlisted leader during an official change of responsibility ceremony at Esler Field in Pineville, La., Dec. 6.
Stiefvater, a resident of Pineville, will replace Command Sgt. Maj. James H. Mays, who is retiring after 41 years of service in the LANG. As senior enlisted leader, Stiefvater will serve as the military advisor to the adjutant general on all enlisted matters to include the training, health, welfare and morale of troops, as well as enlisted professional development. This position represents the collective wisdom of the entire enlisted corps.
In ceremonial fashion, Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, adjutant general of the LANG, received the noncommissioned officer sword from Mays and passed it to Stiefvater, signifying the official change of responsibility of the LANG’s most senior noncommissioned officer position.
During his address to the assembled guests and Louisiana Guardsmen, whose battalions were represented by their colors in formation, Curtis praised Mays for his distinguished service.
“Any Soldier or Airmen in this organization that wants to look for somebody whose shoes to follow in, you would be it,” Curtis said to Mays. “He’s always done the heavy lifting. He has not had any of the easy jobs and throughout his career he’s always done an unbelievable job.”
Mays graciously accepted Curtis’ praise and extended his gratitude in return.
“General Curtis, I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to be the state sergeant major. It is the … pinnacle of my career,” said Mays, also a resident of Pineville. “I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to do the job, to trust in me and trying to make things better for the Guard.”
Curtis recognized Stiefvater as the newest member of the command staff.
“I welcome you to the team,” said Curtis. “On an unbelievable career so far, congratulations to you, and I look forward to having you as my battle buddy as we move forward.”
Stiefvater thanked Curtis for his confidence, and he thanked his family and fellow Guardsmen for their support.
“Thank you, General Curtis for having the faith and confidence in me and appointing me to such a prestigious position as the state sergeant major,” said Stiefvater. “With all the outstanding leaders on the field today and in this audience, I have no doubt that we won’t let you down.”
Stiefvater also took time to extend congratulations to Mays and commend him on his career.
“Thanks for your years of dedicated and honorable service, your mentorship and most importantly your friendship,” remarked Stiefvater. “You can’t replace a Sergeant Major Mays. One can only attempt to walk in his shoes, and do and be as great as he is, and I promise to make that attempt.”
Prior to today’s appointment as the state command sergeant major, Stiefvater most recently served as the LANG senior enlisted advisor, Army. He joined the United States Army in 1983 as an infantryman, later transitioning to the LANG in 1990.
In support of state of emergency operations, Stiefvater served as task force command sergeant major for Task Force Orleans, Task Force West, and Task Force Knight during Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike and Isaac.
He also served as task force command sergeant major during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Operation River Guardian with the 225th Engineer Brigade.