A familiar face to Joint Base Lewis-McChord Stryker soldiers moved up the ranks this week, becoming the senior enlisted soldier for the still-new 7th Infantry Division.
Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel Murphy on Tuesday became the second senior enlisted soldier for the reactivated division Tuesday when he was promoted into a spot opened by Command Sgt. Maj. Del Byers’ move to the U.S. Military Academy in New York.
For much of this year, Murphy served in the division’s operations office. He was the command sergeant major for Lewis-McChord’s 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division on its last deployment to Iraq in 2011-12, and he previously was the senior enlisted soldier for another Lewis-McChord Stryker battalion on an Iraq deployment in 2009-10.
Led by a two-star general, the division is the second highest non-medical Army command at the base south of Tacoma. The Army activated it here a year ago to get a better handle on the growth in combat units that took place over the past 10 years.
The base now has the same command structure as every other Army installation of a comparable size, with full bird colonels leading brigades reporting to a two-star general in a division. The division reports to the three-star command at the I Corps.
Previously, Lewis-McChord had a missing level with colonels in brigades answering to the corps. It was an odd arrangement to veteran soldiers because a corps is intended to work on foreign challenges while a division is charged with looking down the ranks to develop troops.
A year ago, the Army turned to Byers to help create the division, an assignment that called on him to standardize disparate policies governing 23,000 soldiers in seven brigades. The division now has better resources and standard rules governing equipment maintenance, discipline and the mix of programs aimed at keeping soldiers healthy.
“It’s about maintaining trust with everybody outside the gate, specifically with the mothers and fathers who provide their sons and daughters to this line of work,” he said in a recent interview with The News Tribune.
Byers, a veteran Ranger who later moved up the ranks at the 10th Mountain Division in New York, last served at Lewis-McChord before the growth surge spurred by the Iraq War and the expansion of the Army’s Stryker program.
He said he was surprised when he returned to Lewis-McChord last year and found so many new units without a division overseeing them.
“The lack of a division headquarters was really incredible to me,” said Byers, who joined the Army in 1982.
The division has about 300 soldiers. Most divisions have closer to 1,000. Byers said launching a division called on soldiers in the headquarters to work around-the-clock on several occasions.
At his goodbye dinner, he told his staff he was proud “We were able to accomplish as much as we did with a staff that is about 1/3 the size of other divisions,” he said.