04 Jun 2023

Raise the Bar!

Command Sgt. Maj. Rod Akers, co-founder of the Georgia State Defense (GSDF) 1ST Engineer Battalion, retires.

04 Jun 2023 - Beverly Shepard

Command Sgt. Maj. Akers spent 32 years in uniform—20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and 12 years in the GSDF.

He retired on June 4, 2023.

Following his retirement, he consented to this interview with PAO Branch Chief Capt. Beverly Shepard

U.S. Marine Corps

In the U.S. Marines Corps, he was a radio communicator, combat engineer, and designated marksman. He served three tours of duty in Vietnam. He earned a Purple Heart, with Star.

GSDF Commandant

In the GSDF, Command Sgt. Maj. Akers was Commandant for Initial Entry Training (IET). During the 5 ½ years that he served as Commandant, the Cadre motto never changed. The motto was, “Raise the Bar.” His goal was to continuously improve the IET experience for GSDF’s newest Soldiers.

GSDF 1st Engineer Battalion

In 2017, he joined Col. Thompson, then Maj. Thompson, in co-founding the GSDF 1st Engineer Battalion. The 1st Engineer Battalion is a part of the GSDF 76th Support Brigade.

Q. What role does the 1st Engineer Battalion play?

A. The 1st Engineer Battalion plays a unique role—that of debris clearing and chainsaw operations. These skills are particularly valuable to the state of Georgia after storms, hurricanes, and similar catastrophic occurrences. GSDF Soldiers are “boots on the ground,” clearing the way for emergency service teams and vehicles. Currently, 66 Soldiers in the GSDF are certified chainsaw operators.

Q. What’s new with the 1st Engineer Battalion?

A. In 2023, Soldiers certified as chainsaw operators began training other Soldiers to become instructors. We have become force multipliers.

Q. What words do you leave behind?

A. “Find ways to raise your own bar—to be a better person, to be a better Soldier, and to better serve the citizens of Georgia.”