CAMP ZAMA, Japan – U.S. Army Garrison Japan held a change-of-responsibility ceremony here Dec. 2 to welcome incoming USAG Japan Command Sgt. Maj. David Rio, and to bid farewell to the outgoing, Command Sgt. Maj. Justin Turner.

Rio assumed responsibility from Turner, who had served in the position since December 2020, accepting the guidon from USAG Japan Commander Col. Christopher L. Tomlinson during a ceremony at Camp Zama’s Yano Field filled with Soldiers, civilians, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force partners, neighboring city officials, family and friends in attendance.

Tomlinson welcomed Rio to Japan and described him as a “dynamic, hard-charging and personable leader,” and assured attendees that Rio will be an outstanding command sergeant major and partner for USAG Japan and its community.

Rio said he has already had the chance to meet with and learn from his predecessor, and that Turner has already told him some of the things he can look forward to in his role as the command sergeant major.

“I am truly honored and humbled for the opportunity to serve the USAG Japan team, while also working to strengthen partnerships with our JGSDF partners, and our outstanding friends and neighbors in our local communities,” Rio said.

Speaking about his outgoing command sergeant major, Tomlinson praised Turner for his extraordinary interpersonal skills, saying that Turner consistently provided exceptional leadership, which was bolstered by the noncommissioned officer’s unique ability to demonstrate empathy and compassion.

“I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a leader so engaged and committed to his Soldiers, his civilian workforce, and his community members,” Tomlinson said. “Command Sgt. Maj. Turner put our people first.”

Expressing gratitude for everyone in attendance, Turner said the true strength of the Camp Zama community is all of the Soldiers, civilians and local-national employees of the Garrison, and praised them for their amazing teamwork throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We came through the worst of it with a stronger relationship, [thanks to] transparent communication and … the ability to work together,” Turner said.

Turner also talked about some of his unique experiences while in Japan that allowed him to learn more about the country’s history and culture, including bilateral engagements with the JGSDF at events like the “tanabata” festival, seeing New Year’s “kadomatsu” decorations, and taking part in a mocha-pounding ceremony.

The change-of-responsibility ceremony included its own Japanese tradition as well. When Turner first assumed responsibility two years ago, he painted one eye of a Japanese “daruma,” a tradition that involves asking for the fulfillment of a wish or goal. During the ceremony, he painted in the other eye, signifying that his goal had been achieved.

Turner will move on to his next assignment at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.


This piece is written by Noriko Kudo from the U.S. Army Garrison – Japan. Want to feature your story? Reach out to us at [email protected]