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NEWS | April 5, 2022

Michigan CSM set to retire as Fort Custer Training Center receives new enlisted leader

By U.S. Air Force MSgt. David Eichaker Michigan National Guard

AUGUSTA, Mich.—Ceremonies honor lineage and history, and on March 5th, Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Gregory passed the unit guidon onto the next garrison command sergeant major (CSM).

Gregory served as the garrison CSM for Fort Custer Training Center from September 1, 2021 to March 5, 2022. During his time at the Michigan National Guard’s 7,500 acre training center, he ensured he set the example for Soldiers under his leadership.

“CSM Gregory set the example and exceeded standards and expectations diligently while continually demonstrating capacity for being effective and efficient in directing activities of others and ensuring higher quality results,” said Army Lt. Col. Jennifer L. McLean-Ellis, garrison commander at Fort Custer Training Center. “He has a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be missed and his focus on readiness and accountability of the enlisted force here.”

“His commitment to his Soldiers, the Michigan National Guard, and the nation was instrumental to our mission’s successes over the years and we all wish him a happy retirement as he enters the next chapter of his life,” she added.

The Michigan National Guard provides benefits such as assistance with educational costs and health insurance, and although Gregory finished his career with the Michigan Army National Guard, that isn’t where he began.

“I initially joined the Army Reserve with a field artillery unit,” said Gregory. “I wanted to expand my professional growth and gain career broadening experiences so in January 1987, I joined the active Army with assignments at Fort Hood, Fort Benning, and Fort Bragg and had two tours in Korea.”

“After my first deployment in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, I left active duty and joined the Michigan Army National Guard in September 1997,” he added.

The Michigan National Guard is unique in its recruiting, promotion policies, and overall culture as it works to build a positive culture, values safety, sees diversity as a strength, acknowledges the importance of work-life balance, and builds trust in leaders. And that is what attracted Gregory to join the Michigan Army National Guard.

“The Michigan National Guard recruits, attracts, and retains the most talented members through a culture of safety, respect, and performance and I knew this is where I wanted to finish out my military career,” said Gregory. “I wanted to do my part by maintaining the highest standards I could instill on the Soldiers, resulting in a better environment and maintain the most talented members that drive this organization to success.”

Gregory passed on the guidon and relinquished his responsibilities to a familiar face and former field artillery Army reservist from the same unit in the beginning of their careers.

“I am happy for CSM Gregory and his successes and just know this is an honor and privilege to have been selected for this position,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Kreston Vandermark.

Vandermark himself is no stranger to challenges and has lived up to the Army Core Values and brings his experiences to the organization.

“Mentoring and developing future leaders as a first sergeant was one of my career highlights,” said Vandermark. “In my stage of my career, I want to take my 31 years of experience, which includes multiple deployments, and continue molding our war fighters here at Fort Custer.”

“I will continue focusing on readiness and present opportunities for each Soldier to move the organization toward our strategic goals – individual readiness, which is the foundation of each unit,” he said.