ARLINGTON, Va. - Command Sgt. John Leonard Jr., a native of Southwest Harbor, Maine, has retired from the Army National Guard following a 41-year military career.
Leonard’s final position was senior enlisted advisor for the chief of the National Guard Bureau, LTG H Steven Blum. Leonard became the first person to assume that position in November 2003. He has been the Guard Bureau chief’s primary advisor about the affairs of the 457,000 enlisted Soldiers and Airmen of the Army and Air National Guard since then.
Leonard has been succeeded by Command Sgt. Maj. David Hudson, the former state command sergeant major for the Alaska Army National Guard.
“The National Guard has changed immensely. It’s probably the most respected military force in our country,” said Leonard who has been an Army National Guard Soldier for 24 years.
“The people in this nation have seen what we’re capable of doing during the Global War on Terrorism and what we’re prepared to do during disasters such as Hurricane Katrina,” he added. “The National Guard will continue to be the envy of every other nation. Nobody has been able to duplicate what we have in our National Guard.”
Leonard enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1965 and was wounded twice during a 14-month tour in Vietnam.
He joined the Maine Army Guard as a helicopter crew chief in 1972. He has since served as the state command sergeant major in Maine and in Southwest Asia during Operation Desert Storm. Since 1997 he has been the command sergeant major for the entire Army National Guard and the senior enlisted advisor to the assistant secretary of defense for Reserve Affairs as well as the senior enlisted advisor at the National Guard Bureau.
“I’m not really looking forward to taking off the uniform, but it’s time,” said Leonard who plans to spend more time with his family. “Basically they know me by my picture. They don’t know me as a person.”
He is married to the former Sharon Forbis of Southwest Harbor, Maine. The Leonards have two married daughters and four grandchildren.