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New River Air Station sergeant major retires after 30 years

Sgt. Maj. Robert A. Allen Jr. salutes during the national anthem during a relief and retirement ceremony April 11, 2014, at Marine Corps Air Station New River. Allen, who retired after 30 years of service, relinquished his post as the air station sergeant major to Sgt. Maj. William H. Oldenburg.

Music from the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing Band echoed off nearby buildings Friday morning as a new chapter began aboard New River Air Station.

Marines and their families gathered under tents and out of steady winds as the ceremony commenced.

“I thank you all for being here, but today is not about me,” said Sgt. Maj. Robert Allen Jr., who officially relinquished his post as air station sergeant major to Sgt. Maj. William Oldenburg at 9 a.m. Friday after 30 years of service.

“It’s about the Marines standing behind me. Thank you very much for being who you are. Your professionalism and commitment to duty made a very strong statement, and I’m very proud of you. As one chapter closes in the history book today, another opens.”

All who were present stood at attention as Allen presented the non-commissioned officers sword to Oldenburg, symbolizing the transfer of command.

After the transfer of command, Allen retired.

“You have helped maintain the security of the nation during this critical time in history with a devotion to duty and a spirit of sacrifice in keeping with the proud traditions of military service. Your commitment and dedication are an inspiration to those who will follow in your footsteps. My best wishes for you, and I hope you find happiness and success in the future,” read a letter from President Obama addressed to Allen.

Oldenburg accepted his new position after serving as the II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group (Forward) sergeant major in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“He is going to be a tough act to follow,” Oldenburg said. “Bob has always been a consummate professional. We were together in 2011 overseas, and he really set me up for success here. I look forward to working with you all.

“For the first 15 years in my career I was on the flight line. There were many times the station was doing stuff I didn’t need them to do or not doing enough stuff that I needed for my primary job. Now is my opportunity as the sergeant major to be able to help provide the necessary services so you can focus on your task of being the best aviators possible.”

Commanding the troops during the relief and appointment ceremony was Allen’s son, Sgt. Robert A. Allen, who was responsible for the formation, presentation and march in review.

Allen is walking a similar path to his father and hopes to one day also be in charge of the air station.

“I’m trying to follow my father’s footsteps,” Allen said. “The only thing I would vary is doing drill instructor duty instead of recruiting, but otherwise, I’d like to take the same route and everything else. Even though my father is retired now, he still did 30 years in the Marine Corps and can still guide me. If I need to ask for professional advice, he will still be there.”

Friday’s ceremony marks the 26th change of command at the air station since it began operations in 1965 under the leadership of Sgt. Maj. W. L. Gulley.

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