Story by Michael Glasch on 12/12/2016BAGRAGAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Transatlantic Afghanistan District (TAA) welcomed a new top NCO, Command Sgt. Maj. Chad Blansett, during a change of responsibility ceremony Friday, Dec. 9, on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
"Being selected to serve in this great district is truly a humbling experience," Blansett said. "To the TAA family, I'm here for a year and I know without a doubt that I'll be a better engineer, and a better noncommissioned officer for having this opportunity to serve with each of you."
The Nocona, Texas, native comes to TAA from the 15th Engineer Battalion in Grafenwoehr, Germany, where he served as the Battalion Command Sergeant Major. This is Blansett's third deployment to Afghanistan, having deployed in 2006 and 2010. He also deployed to Iraq three times, with single deployments Kosovo and Haiti.
That experience is something Col. Jon Chytka, commander, TAA, said will help Blansett play a crucial role as USACE-TAA continues to build Afghanistan and the Afghan people.
"Command Sergeant Major Chad Blansett is a very experienced senior leader who has a proven track record of excellence and experience at many levels," Chytka said. "He cut his teeth as a construction equipment operator, so once he finishes memorizing the two-inch binder of USACE unique acronyms, which will probably take until tomorrow, he will be fully up and running. One thing he will quickly grasp is our operational environment. He has eight peacekeeping and combat tours including Haiti, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan which he will use to continue to keep the district safe."
Blansett replaces Command Sgt. Maj. John Hankins, who will be returning to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Hankins said one of the most important things he learned during his deployment was to think from the head, but to speak from the heart.
"I really don't want to go. This is a great organization, and you are great people," Hankins told the crowd. "You didn't just volunteer to take care of America on the home front, you volunteered to take your expertise and bring it forward to other countries in a contingency engineering district. You've been doing it in Iraq, you've been doing in it Afghanistan, and what you're bringing is a wealth of knowledge of what's the best of us."
That sentiment was echoed by Blansett.
"There is no doubt that the work we are going to do here for the next year is going to bear fruit. The very foundations, the brick and mortar that we are in charge of supervising and constructing is going to benefit Afghans for generations to come and I'm super excited to be part of this," he said.
Blansett's military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (with two oak leaf clusters), Meritorious Service Medal (with two oak leaf clusters), Army Commendation Medal (with four oak leaf clusters), Army Achievement Medal (with one oak leaf clusters), Combat Action Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Senior Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Sapper Tab, Drivers Badge (3 clasps), Japanese Parachutist Badge, Presidential Unit Citation, Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation, and the Superior Unit Award.