Compiled from a GSDF Retirement Ceremony Program, GSDF Records, and Interviews with the Public Affairs Office
During a retirement ceremony at the Ellenwood Readiness Center, Ellenwood Ga., Command Sgt. Maj. O’Leary received the prestigious James Edward Oglethorpe Award, along with numerous gifts and certificates.
“It was my honor to be part of a great Soldier’s career and retirement,” said GSDF Commanding General Brig. Gen. Mark D. Gelhardt Sr. “CSM O’Leary was an outstanding senior noncommissioned officer and my right-hand Senior NCO for several years. CSM O’Leary’s well-deserved retirement—after so many years in uniform, both on active duty, as a Vietnam War veteran, and as the CSM of the Georgia State Defense Force—is a career that all should look at and want to emulate. CSM O’Leary is a true professional soldier who has led the way for all of us and has set standards that we should all try to meet.”
U.S. Army Service
Command Sgt. Maj. O’Leary completed basic training at Ft. Polk, LA. During his military career, he served in Germany, Korea, Vietnam, and Washington, D.C. He also served at Ft. Campbell, KY and Ft. Gordon, GA.
He held various positions, including Command Sergeant Major of the 38th Signal Battalion. He retired from the U.S. Army on May 31, 1991.
In December 2000, he joined the GSDF as a command sergeant major, serving as the senior noncommissioned officer in the G-3.
While in the GSDF, he has participated in every GSDF annual training and every GSDF change of command ceremony
“He’s a true example of an outstanding NCO,” said retired Brig. Gen. Lou Coroso, former GSDF Deputy Commanding General. “It was a privilege to serve with him in the GSDF for over 20 years.”
In addition, Command Sgt. Maj. O’Leary supported the headquarters Soldier of the Year (SOY) competition. As GSDF Command Sergeant Major, he chaired every SOY board.
“You certainly had to know your stuff because Command Sgt. Maj. O’Leary could smell nonsense a mile away, and he would call you out on it,” said retired Sgt. 1st Class Kara Kirby, the only GSDF Soldier known to have been selected for both Soldier of the Year and Noncommissioned Soldier of the Year awards.
Service Runs in His Family
Command Sgt. Maj. O’Leary is among four generations of his family to have served in the military. His grandfather served in the Philippine American War (1900-1901), with 35th Volunteer Infantry Regiment. His father served in World War II, surviving the Bataan Death March. His eldest son retired from the U.S. Air Force, having served in Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
His brother is a U.S. Navy veteran, who served in the Lebanon campaign. His sister served 8 years in the U.S. Navy.
A Career Well Spent
Command Sgt. Maj. O’Leary’s service will long be remembered.
“After 48 years, I’m ‘stacking arms,’” he said, using a military reference to describe his retirement.
Command Sergeant Major of the Georgia Army National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Marks joined GSDF Soldiers and guests for the ceremony.
Command Sgt. Maj. O’Leary was born in Manila, Philippines. He and his wife, also from Manila, were married in 1964. They have four children.