Military’s outgoing top enlisted leader unveils unique rank insignia for SEAC
By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 10, 2019
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military’s top enlisted service member unveiled a new, distinctive rank insignia specifically for the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, an insignia that he will wear for his last week on the job.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell sported the new insignia while meeting with reporters Monday ahead of his retirement Friday. The new insignia, which features the same eagle grasping three arrows that appears on the Joint Staff emblem surrounded by four stars, will be donned by the incoming SEAC, Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Ramon “CZ” Colon-Lopez, for the entirety of his time in that position.
Troxell has worn the same rank insignia as other command sergeants major in the Army throughout his four years as the SEAC. While the top enlisted service members assigned to their military branches — the sergeant major of the Army, the sergeant major of the Marine Corps, the chief master sergeant of the Air Force, the master chief petty officer of the Navy and the master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard — for years have worn rank insignia specific to their positions, no such insignia previously existed for the SEAC.
The new insignia was some two years in the making, said Troxell, who is just the third person to hold the SEAC job, which was created in 2005. The SEAC is charged with advising the chairman on issues pertaining to the enlisted force and working to understand what issues rank-and-file troops face in their missions and in daily life worldwide.
Troxell said he was instructed by then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, to find ways to solidify the position of top enlisted service member.
“Gen. Dunford said, ‘Hey, you have to give this job irreversible momentum,’ ” Troxell said. “This new insignia represents an important step in differentiating the unique roles and responsibilities of this joint position on the Joint Staff and in the Department of Defense.”
Initially, Troxell said he intended the insignia to feature two stars, like those of the top enlisted soldier, sailor, airman, Marine and Coast Guard member, but Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, instructed him to include four stars. Those stars signify the SEAC specifically advises the chairman, he said.
Troxell retires Friday after nearly 38 years in the Army. Colon-Lopez then will take the job as the top enlisted service member for a two-year term that can be extended to four years.
Colon-Lopez is a career Air Force special operator who most recently served as the senior enlisted leader of U.S. Africa Command. He has served multiple combat deployments to as a pararescueman, and received a Bronze Star with combat “V” for valor and the Air Force Combat Action Medal for actions in Afghanistan. He will be the first airman to hold the title of senior enlisted leader to the chairman.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell, senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks as he prepares to depart the position during a news briefing in the Pentagon Press Briefing Room on Dec. 9, 2019, in Washington. Troxell wore the new rank insignia for his position while meeting with reporters Monday ahead of his retirement Friday.
JAMES K. MCCANN/DOD