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(Enlarge) Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Charles E. Smith shares a laugh with Sgt. 1st Class Milliasent Jacobs and Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Alvedo at Right Arm Night on May 24. After serving for a year, Smith is relinquishing his position at Fort Meade today to become the senior enlisted advisor at the Eastern Sector Great Lakes Military Entrance Processing Station in Chicago. (Photo by Noah Scialom)

Calling it a great opportunity to serve and one of the most rewarding jobs in the military, Command Sgt. Maj. Charles E. Smith prepares for life after Fort Meade as he completes his final week as garrison command sergeant major.

Smith will officially relinquish his garrison responsibilities today as he takes on new duties as the senior enlisted advisor for the Eastern Sector Great Lakes Military Entrance Processing Station in Chicago.

Smith will be replaced by Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas J. Latter, who is scheduled to assume the duties as the garrison's senior enlisted advisor in September.

During the interim period, Sgt. Maj. Debra L. McGarity of the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation will serve as the acting garrison command sergeant major.

For the past year, Smith has been a fixture at Fort Meade garrison events, serving first as the garrison's senior enlisted advisor for former Garrison Commander Col. Daniel L. Thomas and continuing that role for Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein.

"Command Sergeant Major Smith is a wise NCO and a superb Soldier," Rothstein said "The garrison command sergeant major is another set of eyes and ears for the garrison commander. Command Sergeant Major Smith has done an outstanding job of supporting me in my duties as garrison commander and in supporting and inspiring Soldiers and their families."

As the garrison's command sergeant major, Smith has had a wide variety of duties. In addition to serving as the garrison's senior enlisted advisor, Smith performed ceremonial functions and kept the commander advised of potential situations, procedures and practices affecting the welfare, morale, job satisfaction and use of garrison enlisted service members.

Smith also served as an advocate for enlisted Soldiers in the garrison.

"The most important part of my job has been taking care of people -- that, and always trying to find ways to help people have balance in their lives," he said.

A native of Benton Harbor, Mich., Smith has served in the Army for 27 years. He attended basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., and completed advanced individual training at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind., where he was awarded the Military Occupational Specialty - Personnel Administration Specialist (MOS-75B).

Tours of duty have included stops at Fort Carson, Colo.; U.S. Army Okinawa, Japan; 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky., Fort Jackson, S.C., Baghdad; Fort Hood, Texas; and U.S. Army, Korea.

Since August 2009, Smith has been assigned to Fort Meade, serving as the command sergeant major for Headquarters Command Battalion prior to assuming his current assignment.

One of the things Smith said he will miss most is the variety of activities he has had on and off post, noting that no two days were ever the same.

"This is a diverse population, and there are so many different activities at Fort Meade," he said. "There are traditions and a heritage here. Having an opportunity to be involved in all activities that affect Fort Meade [inside and outside the gate] has been a great honor."

His takeaways, or accomplishments at Fort Meade, will revolve around the friendships, partnerships and people Smith has helped while serving as garrison command sergeant major.

"I care about people - Soldiers, civilians, and family members," he said. "It's not about me. I'm successful when everyone around me is successful."

Smith is also proud of the partnerships he has established with tenant units at Fort Meade.

"There are so many opportunities to bond and build partnerships with NCOs, Soldiers and their families," he said. "I had the opportunity to attend and be a part of a lot of programs that develop service members and support their families. A big part of my job has been making sure I share this information with others."

Smith credits "everything I stand for and my actions" to his wife, Audrey.

"She is the wind under my wings; without her there is no me," he said. "She is my sounding board."

As he reflects on his past service, Smith said he is looking forward to his next assignment.

"I'm always the optimist," he said. "While I was here it was about what can we do here to make things better at Fort Meade. Now, it's time for me to go forward and do the best I can. Just be Smith."

Editor's note: See more photos of CSM Smith on the Fort Meade Facebook page.

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