Former State Command Sergeant Major honored by Adjutant General
Story and photo by Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office
FRANKFORT, Ky. – For nearly 30 years in uniform, Command Sgt. Maj. John Gipe said he has kept his job as simple as he could. And while he has held many different positions in that time, a sergeant major’s responsibility remains simple as well, to take care of Soldiers.
Gipe was awarded for his continued work for the benefit of service members nationwide when he was presented the Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal during a ceremony at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky., June 11, 2012.
Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky’s Adjutant General was on hand to present the award to Gipe, who had traveled back to Kentucky for a visit with family.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Gipe has been an inspirational and exceptional leader for the entire Army National Guard,” said Tonini. “And he has never stopped taking care of Soldiers.”
Gipe currently serves as the senior enlisted advisor for Reserve affairs to the Assistant Secretary of Defense in Washington, D.C. He provides advice on policies concerning Reserve service members in not only the National Guard, but all other Reserve components of the Armed Services.
His work in the Pentagon is a long way from his roots as a Kentucky National Guard cavalry scout in Owensboro, Ky., where he enlisted in 1982.
Gipe was a command sergeant major by 9/11, serving in that position for the 238th Regiment at Fort Knox. And in 2002, he was named the fifth State Command Sergeant Major of the Kentucky National Guard.
Following a deployment with U.S. Central Command in 2005, He was chosen to be the eighth Command Sergeant Major of the National Guard. He helped coordinate the largest domestic deployment of National Guard troops during the Hurricane Katrina tragedy. In 2009, Gipe assumed his current role with the Assistant Secretary of Defense.
“I have been very fortunate,” said Gipe. “I have had the opportunity to do what I needed to do to make sure troops were taking care of, and all the rest just worked itself out. I have been very blessed.”
Having served away from the Commonwealth for so long, Gipe is ready to return, but not until he has done what he can in Washington, D.C. During his tenure, he has not only monitored service members while on duty, but also promoted military efforts at home through family and Soldier support programs.
He returned to Kentucky for a simple family visit, and was surprised by the award presentation, calling it very gratifying.
“It’s great to know that things you do are noticed,” he said. “And it’s nice to see that people respect what you do have done.”
The support he still has was evident during the ceremony with numerous members of the Kentucky Guard’s command staff on hand. Current State Command Sergeant Major Gregory Armstrong called Gipe an example of the continued legacy of the Kentucky National Guard.
He said it is only a matter of time until he can bring his storied career to a close and call the Bluegrass home once again. He appreciates the ongoing support he receives from Maj. Gen Tonini and the Kentucky Guard and said he will always be proud to be a Kentucky Soldier.