U.S. Army Reserve's Top Enlisted Soldier CSM Caffie Retires
After 40 Years of Service
FORT McPHERSON, Ga.
The Army Reserve's top enlisted Soldier retired Jan. 8, 2010 from an Army that's vastly different from the one he was drafted into almost 40 years ago.
One of the last Vietnam-era conscripts still in uniform, Command Sergeant Major Leon Caffie, who was drafted into the Army in 1970, was honored at a ceremony at U.S. Army Reserve Command headquarters at Fort McPherson, Ga.
"I went through the induction center at Jacksonville, Fla., and eventually ended up at basic at Fort Jackson [S.C.] and advanced infantry training. I came home, and 11 days later my Dad drove me to the airport and I was shipped out to the Republic of Vietnam," he said during a recent interview. "When I went in, it was at night and there were tracers coming in and tracers going out. That has a tendency to focus your attention."
SFC Elizabeth A. Johnson worked tirelessly during her
tenure at the USARC for CSM Caffie. Both supported the USAR (Annual) Enlisted Scholarship Program.
Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, Chief of the Army Reserve, remembered when he interviewed Caffie for the top job. “This is not just a sergeant major, this is a legend and personal friend,” Stultz said. “When he interviewed for the job, he never once talked about himself, he always talked about Soldiers. … It made it very easy to say this was the right man for the job.” Throughout his illustrious career, Caffie served with the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam's Central Highlands, where he earned his Combat Infantryman's Badge and his first Bronze Star. In 1972, Caffie went back to Florida and entered the inactive reserve. He used the GI Bill to go to college, and in 1974 joined an Army Reserve unit in Gainesville, Fla. Over the years, he took on more responsible and demanding jobs.
With the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America, the lives of America’s military reservists changed. At that time, Caffie was a sergeant major, and he plunged into preparing units for mobilization. In November 2002, he deployed to Iraq as the command sergeant major of the 377th Theater Support Command based in Belle Chasse, La., in support of the War on Terror.
Since August 29, 2006, when he was sworn in as the 10th command sergeant major of the Army Reserve, Caffie has represented the interests of more than 150,000 enlisted Soldiers and served as chief adviser to Stultz, Chief of the Army Reserve, on all enlisted matters.
"It hasn't been about the star and oak leaves, it has always been about the Soldiers,” Caffie said. “They do it because they are patriots, they do it because they love our way of life, they do it because they care,” he emphatically said. “What I will miss most will be their faces, I will miss the people,” he concluded.
Caffie was born in Montgomery, Ala., and grew up in Gainesville, Fla., where he lives with his wife Sylvia. In his civilian career, Caffie served as a law enforcement officer with the Alachua County Sheriff’s office. He retired Feb. 4, 2006, as director of law enforcement services at the rank of major.
CSM Leon Caffie with
his wife Sylvia near
U.S. Capital Building
Editors Note: CSM Caffie was an advocate for enlisted soldiers and their dependents with his strong support of the USAR Enlisted Scholarship program during his tenure.