HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass.
– The Massachusetts National Guard marked the 377th birthday of the National Guard here Friday, December 13, by holding a grand opening of the new Joint Force Headquarters while also hosting a change of responsibility ceremony for the state command sergeant major position.
Outgoing State Command Sgt. Maj. David Costa passed responsibility to incoming State Command Sgt. Maj. Carlos Ramos Rivera during the ceremony. Costa is set to retire after more than 44 years of service to the Army and Massachusetts National Guard.
“When you find a Soldier like him,” said Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, The Adjutant General, Massachusetts National Guard, of Costa, “a state command sergeant major who takes care of the Soldiers and Airmen of our organization like no other, it’s hard to say goodbye. But, then again, as I look back on the legacy that he’s left, the professional stamp he has put on our organization, I realize that he’s never truly going to leave. He will always be a part of our organization.”
“The best advice I can give to any Soldier or Airman is the same advice my father gave me when he put me on a bus and sent me off to Vietnam. He told me three things,” said Costa. “First, whatever the Army asks you to do, do your best. Second, listen to your officers and sergeants. And, most important of all: be a good friend to your fellow Soldiers.”
Ramos Rivera most recently served as command sergeant major for the 51st Troop Command. As the state command sergeant major, Ramos Rivera will serve as The Adjutant General’s personal advisor for all enlisted related issues, particularly those affecting training and quality of life. The state command sergeant major travels throughout the commonwealth observing, training, and talking to Soldiers, Airmen and their Families.
“I recognize that I have big shoes to fill,” Ramos Rivera said to Costa, “but that’s OK, I was mentored by you. I know I’ll do fine.”
“My goal will be to effect long term change that will be both enduring and positive. I intend to steer the enlisted force so that leaders can refocus on the basics. The needs of over a decade of war have forced us to focus on war fighting at the expense of the development of our future leaders,” Ramos Rivera said. “The war is winding down. It is time for us to focus on the basics.”
The Massachusetts National Guard also marked the 377-year milestone by holding a grand opening ceremony for the Joint Force Headquarters here. The new headquarters has been partially opened since Nov. 5, 2012. However, the $50 million, 172,000 square foot facility only recently opened its west wing. The state-of-the-art facility, Rice said, is now fully operational.
The Massachusetts National Guard was founded as the Massachusetts Bay Colonial Militia on Dec. 13, 1636. For 377 years, the Massachusetts National Guard has provided a trained and ready force, serving the community, the commonwealth, and the nation.
“When a legitimate government actually writes a law and puts it in the code to establish and pay for regiments, that is the basis for the formation of the military organization,” said Rice. “That’s where our roots lay. It wasn’t until that act was signed into law by the Massachusetts Bay Colony on Dec. 13, 1636 that really established the foundation for this thing that we call the U.S. military. It all started here, in this commonwealth, and on grounds not far from here, in 1636. We are always ready, always there.”