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La. Guard’s top enlisted leader retires, new leader assumes responsibility

By Sgt. 1st Class Denis B. Ricou, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office

BATON ROUGE, La. – Command Sgt. Maj. Robert “Joey” Stiefvater retired and relinquished responsibility of the Louisiana National Guard as the senior enlisted leader to Command Sgt. Maj. Clifford Ockman, Jr. during an official ceremony at the Camp Beauregard post theater in Pineville, Louisiana, Dec. 6.

“Sergeant Major Stiefvater, thank you for your leadership, support and sacrifices for 36 plus years,” said Brig. Gen. D. Keith Waddell, adjutant general of the LANG. “You have done a remarkable job in every unit you have served and your mentorship and leadership to many soldiers and airmen will endure for many years to come.”

Stiefvater, a resident of Pineville and a graduate of Northwestern State University, has served as the senior enlisted advisor to the army and the senior enlisted leader of the entire LANG for the past 7 years. From the years 2000-2013, he served as battalion command sergeant major for the 1st Battalion, 244th Aviation Regiment; 1st Battalion, 141st Field Artillery; and 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment. Stiefvater also served as command sergeant major for the 139th Regional Support Group and 225th Engineer Brigade.

“Although today is a day to signify a transfer of responsibility and to saying goodbye, for me … it’s a day to give thanks,” said Stiefvater. “To the Louisiana National Guard, I want you to know that there is no doubt in my mind that this Natchitoches boy would not be where he is today without your support. All of the success I have not only goes to God but to all of you. I am in awe to have watched what you do and have done during my time.”

Before assuming responsibility as the LAARNG SEA, Stiefvater mobilized in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-2005 and supported many state of emergency operations including Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, and Isaac. He also served as Task Force Command Sergeant Major during Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Operation River Guardian.

As the newly appointed senior enlisted leader, Ockman will now advise the adjutant general of Louisiana on all matters pertaining to the more than 11,400 soldiers and airmen in the state.

“Sergeant Major Ockman, congratulations on this well-deserved honor … and I have no doubt you will excel at this position,” said Waddell. “You have been an exceptional standard bearer, always committed to excellence, and a strong advocate for our guardsmen, their families and our organization.”

Ockman, a resident of St. Charles Parish and graduate of Excelsior College in New York, has served in various infantry positions throughout his active duty and National Guard career. Since 2005, he has served as a command sergeant major for the 1-141st Field Artillery Battalion, 199th Leadership Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 139th Regional Support Group and the 199th RTI. He also served as the commandant of the Louisiana Noncommissioned Officer Academy, as the senior enlisted advisor of the Construction and Facilities Management Office, the Reintegration Office and most recently as the SEA of the LAARNG.

“Thank you to Sergeant Major Stiefvater for your leadership, friendship and counsel. We will miss your mentorship,” said Ockman. “To the soldiers and airmen, I will support you and your families, the unit goals, the command vision and provide the tools for training to maintain the readiness of both our state and federal missions.”

Ockman is a veteran of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Operation Uphold Democracy, and Operation Iraqi Freedom III.

Some of Stiefvater’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Achievement Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Cluster, Good Conduct Medal, Reserve Components Achievement Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Service Medal with 1 Bronze Service Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with 3 Bronze Service Stars, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Silver Hour Glass and “M” Device, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral 4, Army Service Ribbon, Oversees Ribbon, Multinational Force and Observers Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Expert Infantry Badge, Basic Parachutists Badge, Honorable Order of Saint Barbara and the Bronze Order of the De Fleury Medal.

Stiefvater resides in Pineville with his wife, the former Teresa Malone. He is also father to three children: Corey, Christin and Emma.

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