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Story and photos by Sarah Smith Staff writer The guidon was passed as the Fort Meade community welcomed its new installation command sergeant major during a change of responsibility ceremony Aug. 28 at McGlachlin Parade Field here. Command Sgt. Maj. Earl L. Ware relinquished responsibility to Command Sgt. Maj. Esmond Bakker, who came from a tour at Fort Hamilton, N.Y., as the garrison command sergeant major. Participants of the multi-services event included personnel from Headquarters Command Battalion; Company D, Marine Support Battalion; the National Security Agency Joint Service Color Guard; Naval Security Group Activity and the 70th Intelligence Wing. Installation Commander Col. John W. Ives, host of the ceremony, offered words to each of the command sergeants major. "It's always difficult to bid good-bye to someone in your command, but today it's much more difficult because a dear friend is in fact departing," Ives said of Ware. "Command sergeants major deserve respect from officers and enlisted {members} serving in their ranks, and more importantly they hold positions of trust. "Command Sgt. Maj. Ware is no exception though he is in fact exceptional," he said. Ware, who has held his position at Fort Meade since Sept. 21, 2001, will continue onto Fort Sam Houston, Texas. "He's a true soldier with a tremendous reputation that will surely lead to further career successes," Ives stated in commending Ware. In his address to Bakker, Ives expressed his optimism of the new installation sergeant major's ability. "Command Sgt. Maj. Bakker has exactly what it takes to lead Fort Meade and the community ... you have some pretty big shoes to fill; we are certain you shall succeed," Ives said. Then Ware shared his feelings about his departure from Fort Meade. "This is truly one of the most difficult things I have had to do to date: Saying good-bye to my Fort Meade family. ... Without you, this job would have been hollow, and I would have left {it} a long time ago," he said. Ware then thanked Ives and former installation commander Col. Michael Stewart for allowing him "the opportunity to do what sergeant majors were designed to do: Take care of soldiers, and in this case, take care of service members." It was in his address that he also offered Bakker congratulations. "You are now part of one of the greatest teams ever," Ware stated. When Bakker spoke, he asked the audience to give the troops on the field a round of applause. In his brief greeting he also acknowledged Ives and Ware, stating, "I know I have big shoes to fill, but I'm up to the challenge." Bakker began his career in 1979, taking him to Fort Jackson, S.C., to complete basic training and advanced individual training. He also attended advanced individual training and basic airborne training at Fort Benning, Ga. His assignments have included several at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he was an infantryman, later as a records specialist, and his final stint was as a G1 sergeant major. He has also been to Fort Belvoir, Va., as a Personnel Actions Center supervisor; Belgium as a noncommissioned officer (NCO) in charge of the Military Personnel Division; Mannheim, Germany as a first sergeant; Fort Bliss, Texas, as an instructor and adviser of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. The new installation command sergeant major has earned the Meritorious Service Medal (four oak leaf clusters), Army Commendation Medal (eight oak leaf clusters), Army Achievement Medal (10 oak leaf clusters), Good Conduct Medal (seventh award), National Defense Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (four) and the Overseas Service Ribbon (two). Bakker's military education includes the Pre-commissioned Officer Course, Basic and Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course, Master Fitness Trainer Course, First Sergeant Course, Instructor Training Course, Small Group Instructor Course, Sergeants Major Academy Class. He also has an associate's degree in management from Regents University, an associate's degree in information management from Campbell University. Bakker is three classes shy of a bachelor's degree from Liberty University.

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