By Amy Perry, Fort Lee Public Affairs
FORT LEE, Va. – A short four-year stint in the Army as a 92 Yankee – unit supply specialist – was as far as Nickia P. Haynes thought he would go while following in his father’s footsteps.
“When I first enlisted, my intention was to stay in for one tour and get out,” he said.
But Haynes’ father – retired Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Haynes Jr., who served as the Combined Arms Support Command sergeant major from 2000-2003 – knew differently.
“When he came into the Army, I wanted him to stay,” the elder Haynes said. “When he was younger, every opportunity he got, he would join me at some military event, whether it was physical training or some other function. He always paid attention. He was a very smart kid. I knew he was going to be better than me. He’s light-years smarter than me.
“Additionally, he had a head start in front of everybody else,” he continued. “I’m not saying I was great, but he watched me as I grew up. He picked those things he wanted to be like. The things I did right – he did those things right. I’m not saying I did anything wrong, but everyone does things a little differently.”
And he was right. Haynes – deputy commandant of the Logistics Noncommissioned Officers Academy – was recently selected for a lateral promotion to command sergeant major after 22 years of service.
When Haynes started looking for someone to conduct his promotion ceremony, a friend of his father’s stepped in.
“When I was the [logistics] deputy at Forces Command at Fort McPherson, Sgt. Maj. Paul Haynes was part of my team there,” said Col. Douglas McBride, now the CASCOM operations, plans and training chief. “When it came down to who he wanted to promote him, his father mentioned that I was here to personalize it a bit. It was a good fit. I’m always honored to promote or re-enlist anybody, anywhere, anytime.
“I met Haynes two years ago when I arrived to Fort Lee,” continued McBride. “I didn’t even know he was Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Haynes’ son. But once I knew, there was an instant bond because his father was such a phenomenal leader. It was an honor to be able to do it.”
McBride said in learning about the younger Haynes’ Army career, he realized he was the epitome of a great noncommissioned officer.
“At every echelon, Sgt. Maj. Haynes has led from the front,” he said. “His body of the work has brought him to the point where the Army has recognized his potential to perform at the next level. Rest assured, when Sgt. Maj. Haynes takes those colors at Fort Bragg for the 82nd [Brigade Support Battalion] as part as America’s Corps, he will get the job done.”
The senior Haynes was a true role model for his son, said McBride, and it was a privilege to serve with him.
“One of the greatest sergeant majors in the history of the Logistics Corps is sitting in this front row today,” he said, during the ceremony in Green Auditorium July 30 at the Army Logistics University. “He’s an inductee to the Quartermaster Hall of Fame, and his last assignment was the CASCOM command sergeant major position. To have that kind of role model in your life to show you what right looks like is another reason we are standing here today.”
After his family helped him pin on his new rank, Haynes thanked his wife, children, mother and brother, before taking time to recognize the impact his father had on him.
“Most football fans have jerseys – a team or person they admire,” he said. “I’ve never bought a jersey – but I have one of my own that was given to me about 12 years ago.”
After his father’s white dress jacket – the jersey – with command sergeant major rank on it was displayed, Haynes turned to his dad and said “Do you remember the day you gave it to me? You told me ‘One day, if you’re good enough.’ That’s exactly how you put it. ‘If you’re good enough, you might be able to wear this.’
“Colonel McBride said it best when he said ‘God does things for a reason.’ That moment set in motion a sense of determination because I didn’t like the sarcastic tone you gave me,” continued Haynes.
Getting assigned to Fort Lee – his father’s last assignment – straight out of the Sergeants Major Academy was a significant event for the younger Haynes.
“’If you’re good enough’ meant a lot more than just being selected as command sergeant major,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wear that jacket. After getting here … I started to hear about the significance and impact that you had over the entire Army.
“I learned about what it really took to be that leader of Soldiers,” he continued. “You touched peoples’ lives across the world. So that jacket has a lot more significance now than ‘are you good enough?’”
Haynes said that before every promotion his father told him that he shouldn’t be in the Army to get rich – he was there to take care of Soldiers.
“After 22 years, coming here to Fort Lee and hearing from all the folks who served with you in the military and about how you lived – just that was pretty significant,” Haynes said to his father. “I think that’s why I was assigned here. There’s a lesson in being just good enough. I realized that you were asking if I was good enough to lead Soldiers.
“I just want to tell you that I’m going to make you proud,” he continued.
The elder Haynes said there was no doubt that his son would make him proud and that he has a great future.
“I think he has potential to be Sergeant Major of the Army because of his passion for leading Soldiers,” he said. “And that’s what it’s all about: leading Soldiers. I am not saying this because I’m his father, but because I’ve watched him from afar and noticed the things he is really passionate about like Soldiers, taking care of families and training. They are things NCOs should embody and be focused on.”
With his newly acquired rank, Haynes will take charge of the 82nd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team at Fort Bragg, N.C., in a change of responsibility ceremony Aug. 20.