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News | March 17, 2023

WRAIR welcomes new CSM in change of responsibility ceremony

By Ricky Agyekum Walter Reed Army Institue of Research

The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research held a change of responsibility ceremony where Command Sgt. Maj. Rodmond Q. Churchill II relinquished responsibility to Command Sgt. Maj Donald G. Gross III, March 17.

The ceremony was presided by Col. Chad Koenig, WRAIR commander, who highlighted Churchill’s accomplishments including leading the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic, improving unit climate, retention, quality of life, and career development for officer and enlisted personnel.

“What has made Churchill’s contributions even more significant is the way he updated his approach to leadership, not only to a truly unique organization, but also [during an] unprecedented time,” Koenig said. “He is the type of leader that demonstrates why NCOs are the backbone of the Army.”

Koenig added that Churchill’s greatest accomplishment was advocating for Soldiers. He championed the optimization of Soldier skills, helping to remove enlisted members from unnecessary additional duties in order to promote readiness and get them back into science support roles.

“I am proud to say [our Soldiers] have enhanced opportunities because of these initiatives,” Churchill said. “They are at the forefront of advancing military medicine whether it is next gen sequencing, vaccine, and delivering evidence based solutions for brain health.”

Churchill also thanked the U.S Army Medical Research and Development Command, family career supporters as well as WRAIR members in Maryland and the four forward directorates. He will assume responsibility as the 32nd Medical Brigade senior enlisted advisor, in the coming months.

Gross and his family were officially welcomed to the organization following remarks from Koenig and Churchill. Sgt. Jose Rodriguez Morales, the 2022 WRAIR Soldier of the Year, presented Mrs. Aquisha Gross (spouse), with a bouquet of yellow roses to symbolize a new beginning and acceptance into the WRAIR family.

“WRAIR is like no other place in the Army or the Department of Defense… a family made up of civilians, Soldiers and contractors all working side-by-side to develop impactful solutions for infectious disease threats and promote brain health,” Koenig said. “We are excited to have you, [and] you are now part of the WRAIR family.”

Gross thanked his family and expressed his enthusiasm in joining the WRAIR team.

“Col. Koenig, I look forward to working with you and our team as WRAIR continues to support the Warfighter with all the amazing work here to move this organization into the future,” Gross said. "To the Soldiers of WRAIR, I am excited to work alongside you as your Command Sgt. Major.”

Gross is now the senior enlisted advisor for a distinguished medical research center that has served America’s military for more than 129 years, leading efforts in military and public health research such as infectious diseases, behavioral health, and other threats to warfighter readiness.

“I have complete confidence that we will continue to move WRAIR forward and add to this organization’s great history and lineage,” Gross said. “I look forward to working with you all."