Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Prince wanted to slip out of town quietly and head to his next assignment.
But that wasn’t to be, as hundreds of friends and coworkers turned out for a luncheon where the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden’s senior noncommissioned leader was hailed and honored with the awarding of the Legion of Merit.
“In addition to helping out Soldiers and Family members, he has been a model sergeant major,” said Col. David Carstens, USAG Wiesbaden’s commander, praising Prince’s contributions since assuming responsibility in March of 2008. “Command Sgt. Maj. Prince was part of a great command team. … He is as much responsible for the community winning the Army Community of Excellence Gold Award (and Sustaining Excellence) as anyone sitting in this room.”
As one after another fellow senior military and civilian leader, Soldier and Family member came forward to share highlights of Prince’s impact on individuals and the community as a whole, it grew obvious that Prince and his wife Jacqueline had touched many people’s lives.
“He was more that just the face of garrison — he was a father to some, a brother to others and a friend to many,” said Cartsens. As the garrison commander awarded Jacqueline with an Achievement Medal for Civilian Service and the outgoing command sergeant major with the Legion of Merit he talked about how they served as “the rock” in guiding Soldiers, Family members and civilians through many transitions. “We relied on the sergeant major to take care of the stuff that is too hard for anyone else to get done.”
In awarding the Legion of Merit for exemplary meritorious service, Carstens added, “That’s the reason we serve — to take care of other people, to take care of our Soldiers.”
“It’s been a great ride,” said Prince. “Sometimes when you get a unit like this, they don’t allow you to be a Soldier — and thank God, they let me be a sergeant major.”
Prince praised his fellow Soldiers both in the garrison and in other Wiesbaden units for working together as a team. “That’s how we are successful. Thanks for all your support.”
Looking back over his time in Wiesbaden, Prince said, “being able to interact with the kids from the child development and school-age centers and being able to be a help to the spouses and Gold Star Families” were among favorite memories.
“One of the great highlights of my career was seeing the Berlin Airlift Anniversary (the 60th in Wiesbaden) and meeting the original veterans,” he said, adding that helping win with the ACOE awards was also a great feeling of contributing to the overall quality of life for Soldiers and their Families.
Anyone who was on hand to welcome Soldiers back from duty in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan witnessed the sergeant major almost always among those in the welcoming ranks. He did so explaining, “As I was deployed a couple of times during my career (to Deserts Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom) I enjoyed seeing them being reunited with their spouses and their kids.
“Being in Wiesbaden has been a great experience for me. I’ve learned a lot from different people. I thank God that I was given the opportunity to serve in this capacity,” Prince said. “And I thank the Soldiers and leaders who served with me for their service and dedication to duty.”
One of those fellow NCOs who helped mentor him during his time in Germany was the 1st Armored Division’s Command Sgt. Maj. Roger Blackwood.
“He set me up for success,” said Prince, “gave me good advice and pointers. He told me I needed to adjust my leadership style in order to be successful in a garrison environment. When you come from the mission side you have a direct leadership style because you are primarily dealing with Soldiers. On the garrison side you’re dealing with civilians, Family members, kids, and you have to be able to articulate and relate to them. By adjusting my ways I think I was able to do so. Sometimes the way you communicate with a Family member is not the same as with Soldiers. You have to be able to be humble and reflective.”
Prince who was born in Panama, said he always wanted to be a member of the U.S. military — since first being impressed by U.S. Soldiers (“they were squared away”) on duty in his native country.
“I joined the U.S. Army to be a Soldier and I believe I’m a Soldier’s Soldier. … I enlisted all four of my brothers in the Army and my two oldest daughters also wear the uniform (both are Air Force members). I believe in the Army with my heart and soul,” he said.
Prince, who was headed to take up duties as the garrison command sergeant major in Fort Hamilton, NY, will be replaced by Command Sgt. Maj. Saeed A. Mustafa, who is currently serving with the 121st Corps Support Battalion in Fort Bliss, Texas.