RAPID CITY – The South Dakota National Guard appointed a Brookings man to its highest ranking enlisted position during a change of responsibility ceremony at Joint Force Headquarters in Rapid City, June 15.
Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick Couser replaces Command Sgt. Maj. James Hoekman as the organization’s senior enlisted leader, and will serve as the adjutant general’s personal advisor on all enlisted matters affecting training and utilization of resources, health of the force, and enlisted professional development for both the South Dakota Army and Air National Guard.
“Talk about two outstanding NCOs - you are everything that any commander or service member could wish for in their senior enlisted leader,” Maj. Gen. Jeff Marlette, SDNG adjutant general, said of both Couser and Hoekman. “Men of character and integrity, men who lead from the front, men who never lose sight that it’s not about them – it’s about the soldiers and airmen and the organization they serve.”
Couser becomes the third person to hold the senior enlisted leader position since it was created in 2013. Hoekman, a resident of Brandon, served in the position since January 2016 and retires with 29 years of service in the National Guard.
“We as an organization look forward to your leadership Command Sgt. Maj. Couser and are greatly appreciative of yours Command Sgt. Maj. Hoekman,” Marlette said.
“Maj. Gen. Marlette, thank you for instilling your trust and faith in me in selecting me as the next senior enlisted leader of this great organization,” Couser said. “Command Sgt. Maj. Hoekman, the South Dakota National Guard is a better organization because of you. Thank you for your commitment and selfless service.”
“I want to congratulate Pat. He and I both had similar career paths...served in many of the same companies and commands, and I can tell you he is going to do a great job,” Hoekman said. “It’s about taking care of soldiers and airmen, and he is a servant leader if I’ve ever seen one.”
Couser has over 37 years of service to the U.S. Army and South Dakota Army National Guard.
He first enlisted into the SDARNG in March 1982 as a heavy vehicle driver with Detachment 1, 740th Transportation Company. Throughout his career, Couser served in nearly every key noncommissioned officer position from team leader to command sergeant major.
“When I joined Det. 1, 740th in Aberdeen in 1982, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be in the position I am in,” Couser said. “I am looking forward to working for all the soldiers and airmen in the South Dakota National Guard. I absolutely love visiting with our service members, hearing their stories and letting them know how important they are.”
Couser served in many key NCO positions during his career such as 1742nd Transportation Company truck master, 727th Transportation Company platoon sergeant, 88th Troop Command senior maintenance supervisor and 665th Maintenance Company first sergeant.
Couser’s command leadership assignments include serving as a command sergeant major with the 881st Troop Command, 196th Regiment (Regional Training Institute) and 109th Regional Support Group.
Couser also completed two combat deployments to the Middle East – one with the 740th Transportation Company during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm Desert Storm from November 1990-July 1991, and the second with the 727th Transportation Company during Operation Iraqi Freedom from January 2002-March 2003.
Couser is a 1983 graduate of Aberdeen Central High School. He received a bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University in 1994 and a master’s degree with the University of Texas at El Paso in 2008 while attending the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.
Prior to his selection as senior enlisted leader, Couser worked as the shop supervisor for the SDARNG’s Field Maintenance Shop #8 in Brookings.
Couser and his wife, Lori, have five children: Amber, Adam, Alex, Ava and Allyson.
“I need to thank my family for all their support and patience over my career,” Couser said. “I also need to thank all the officers and NCOs I have served with. Thank you so much for your guidance, your leadership, and your balance you provided me – helping to develop and mold me into the leader I am today.
“I am extremely grateful and excited for this tremendous opportunity,” Couser added. “I am ready to get started and make a difference in our great organization.”