It was a beautiful day for a well-deserved retirement celebration at Fort Hamilton Army Base in Bay Ridge. Command Sgt. Maj. Tony Stephens turned over responsibilities to Command Sgt. Maj. LaShan Hayes in a moving ceremony outside on the hill at Engeldrum Bluff.
The change of responsibility service took place on Friday, June 8, with a backdrop of the Narrows as an FDNY fireboat sprayed a tribute to Stephens, who was relinquishing his command after 30 years of service.
The West Point Band Quintet provided the prelude music before the presentation of the colors by the New York City Recruiting Battalion Color Guard.
Base Chaplain Donald Ehrke delivered an invocation that was followed by U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hamilton commanding officer Col. Peter Sicoli bidding a fond farewell to Stephens. He praised Stephens not only as a professional soldier but also as a personal friend.
Stephens, who hails from North Carolina, enlisted in the Army in 1988 and served in a variety of positions before landing at Fort Hamilton. During his service he undertook many combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Stephens is the married father of three children.
Stephens spoke about how much serving at Fort Hamilton has meant to him and especially thanked his wife for always standing by him. He also remembered his mother who he said would be proud of his success and who was looking down on him from heaven.
Hayes said that she didn’t really know much about Fort Hamilton in the beginning but is so happy and honored to be here now.
State Sen. Marty Golden congratulated Hayes on her new position and presented Stephens with a Senate proclamation saluting his many years of service to our country.