Bennett takes over as USAG Fort Riley CSM

Incoming Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Colvin Bennett Sr., speaks during a change of responsibility ceremony Jan. 12 at Barlow Theater.

“Thirty-one years has gone very quickly, and I will tell you that I don’t regret a one,” said outgoing Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Ian Mann.

After more than 31 years of service in the U.S. Army, Mann retired and relinquished responsibility as Fort Riley’s garrison command sergeant major to Command Sgt. Maj. Colvin Bennett Sr., during a ceremony Jan. 12 at Barlow Theater.

“Command Sgt. Maj. Bennett carries the right personality for the kind of wide range and complex duties of the garrison command sergeant major,” said Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Brown.

Bennett said he was ready for the challenges ahead.

“Confucius said, ‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ I love this job, and I’m excited to begin another chapter in my career as the garrison command sergeant major,” Bennett said.

Bennett came to Fort Riley from Fort Carson, Colo., where he was a battalion command sergeant major. He previously served as the 1st Infantry Division transportation sergeant major from March 2005 to May 2006 at Fort Riley.

Bennett is qualified to assume the duties, pick up in stride for Mann and take care of the business of the best division installation in the Army, Brown said.

“Col. Brown, thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as your battle buddy,” Bennett said. “I’m looking forward to working with you and continue the best support the Army has to offer to Soldiers and their Family members here at Fort Riley and in the Central Flint Hills Region.”

Bennett also thanked Mann and said, “You are a superb noncommissioned officer that epitomizes the quality found in a senior leader. You’re actions are an example for all to follow.”

Bennett’s wife, Michelle, attended the ceremony. The couple has two children, Colvin Jr., and Marina.

During the ceremony, Mann reflected on his duties during his time at Fort Riley.

“As the garrison sergeant major, we interact with the local communities and the folks in the Central Flint Hills Region, and we help to bridge the gap and make the relationships between our Soldiers, Family members and civilians that live on the installation and off even better, and without our great partners off the installation we couldn’t do that,” he said. “Together as a team working with all the other professionals we’ve been able to make our Army better and serve our nation and help others throughout the world achieve what it is that they are trying to achieve.”

Bennett looks forward to working with the Soldiers and civilians at Fort Riley, much like Mann described.

“My goal is to get to work with the Soldiers and sustain what’s worked and to meet future challenges,” he said.

During his remarks Brown wished Mann good luck in his future endeavors as he prepares for a June 1 retirement.

“I wish you well in your retirement, and I speak for the entire garrison workforce and our Soldiers and their Family members when I say you will be greatly missed,” Brown said. “Anyone who has been around Fort Riley for at least a day, or been around Sgt. Maj. Mann for five minutes, knows that he has fulfilled this role to the end and for that I am personally, eternity grateful.”

Brown looked back on the time he has worked with Mann in the Fort Riley garrison headquarters showcasing Mann’s energy, passion and enthusiasm.

“From the day he was hired, Command Sgt. Maj. Mann never missed a beat, fully displaying unbridled energy and passion for taking care of Families, Soldiers, and I must emphasize, civilians,” Brown said. “We’ve all been incredibly fortunate and rewarded by the time that we’ve spent working around you.”

Leadership is another trait Mann demonstrated throughout his time.

“I’ve seen a whole spectrum of leadership from this man, everything from enforcing standards in a very pointed conversation to teaching a lesson to Soldiers ranging in rank from (private) to (brigadier general),” Brown said. “I’ve seen this in action many a time and it usually started with … ‘Hey, come here young man,’ or ‘Sir, could I please have a word with you?’ It ended with either a good butt chewing or a handshake and word of thanks.”

Mann has also gone beyond the call of duty to be the enthusiastic and engaging ambassador of Fort Riley with a genuine and endearing smile that says, “I am Command Sgt. Maj. Ian Mann, and I want you to help me help our Soldiers, Families and civilians,” Brown said.

A joking and emotional Mann spoke to Soldiers, civilians and Family members for the final time as the garrison command sergeant major.

“This past Sunday as I was preparing for church, I reached in the closet and I grabbed a pair of slacks and I couldn’t tell what color they were. So I walked up to (my wife) Kim and I said, ‘Kim, are these green or grey?’ She said ‘They’re green or grey,’” he said.

While pointing to the ACU uniform he was wearing he said, “This has been easy for 31 years.”

Mann has spent 45 of his 49 years associated with the military. His father retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1974 and a few years later in 1979 Mann joined the Army.

“It’s what I know, it’s what I am, it’s who I am and then have two sons that are serving, one in the Marine Corps and one in the Army, they’ve both deployed and served in combat I’m just as proud as can be,” Mann said.

In attendance for his change of responsibility ceremony was Mann’s wife, Kim; sons, Gunnery Sgt. David Mann, U.S. Marine Corps; and Zachary, sophomore at Kansas State University; daughter-in-law and granddaughter Heather and Baylee Mann; nephew, Staff Sgt. Brian Ornstein, U.S. Air Force; and in-laws. Mann’s son Spc. Doug Mann, Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky., was unable to attend because he is deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Mann thanked the civilians, fellow Soldiers and his Family for their love and support during his tenure at Fort Riley and in the Army.

“I’m ready to move on and I can look back and be proud that all that I’ve served with, you know the folks that I’ve meet throughout the years of service, have just been great to me and my Family, and I appreciate all they’ve done because without them I wouldn’t be as successful as I have and I owe it all to them,” he said.

Brown also thanked Mann and his Family for the unending support, specifically thanking Kim for aiding in Mann’s accomplishments and being a source of strength for him.

“Thanks for sharing him with his nation and its Soldiers and now it is time for us to give him back,” Brown said.

(This article was published in the January 14, 2011, issue of The 1st Infantry Division Post.)

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