“I’m not finished having fun yet,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Rice, previously the Installation Management Command senior enlisted advisor. “I love what I’m doing.”
Rice retired Wednesday at Fort Bragg after serving 32 years in the Army, but he said it’s not over for him.
“With the relationships that I’ve built over the years, I know that I will have an opportunity to help Soldiers and their Families,” Rice said referring to the Triple Nickel program.
The Triple Nickel is a group of retirees, former servicemembers and other caring Fort Bragg neighbors who fundraise and perform charity work to help support military Families in need.
“Over the past six years, they’ve given out scholarships to 44 young troopers,” Rice said. “During the holiday season they do food drives to help Families. The young Soldier doesn’t have much, maybe living from paycheck to paycheck, so I want to get involved.”
Rice said his uncle, who served in the North Carolina National Guard, inspired him at a very early age.
“I looked up to him and the way he loved being a Soldier,” he said. “It was always about taking care of Soldiers.”
After graduating high school, Rice joined the Army, not thinking about retirement at the time. He served in four-year increments, each time growing closer and more committed to his Army Family. His goal — the brotherhood his uncle often spoke about.
“What made me stick it out was the relationships that we built, the bonds that we built, the camaraderie that we had as Soldiers and units,” Rice said.
He said it’s about knowing your Soldiers and living by Army values.
“Most of it is just listening to what they have to say and giving them the right course of action,” Rice said about how he wants to continue serving Soldiers.
He believes that what truly separates us from other armies, is how we care for one another.
“You can count on our Army Family more than anyone else in this world,” Rice said. “I know that they’re there for me anytime I need them.”
“No one has a better Army than ours. It’s being a part of something bigger than yourself, bigger than life. That’s a good feeling and something you really don’t want to separate from.”
Togetherness and unit pride lead to mission readiness. They build trust between the leaders and subordinates Rice said.
“It’s not all about the words, it’s about the actions,” he said. “Will that Soldier come to you in a time of need?”
“You have to demonstrate that that’s the kind of leader you are, and if they don’t come to you, that sends a message that they don’t trust what you’re saying and they don’t trust your actions,” Rice continued. “When Soldiers come to you, it’s because they know that you care.”
Rice may have retired, but he is still cheering from the sidelines.
“Like one of my sergeants major told me a long time ago, ‘Once my Soldier, always my Soldier.’”