By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Fort Hood Herald
Even though John Gioia will no longer put his boots on or wear a uniform, he said he will always remain a proud American soldier.
Gioia was honored for 28 years of military service at a ceremony Monday where he also relinquished responsibility of the 4th Infantry Division to Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Dailey. Gioia served as the division's 17th senior noncommissioned officer for the last two years.
"A lot of things are hard in this business, but other than putting soldiers into harm's way, saying goodbye to a battle buddy is right up there," said Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, the division's commander.
Gioia enlisted in the Army as an engineer in June 1981. He served every enlisted leadership position from demolitions sergeant to the 4th Infantry's top enlisted soldier. His career took he and his family: wife, Fay, and daughters, Katie and Britney, to spots across the globe.
"He served his country all over the world, took no shortcuts, no easy roads," Hammond said of Gioia. "Sought adversity, challenges and was always the better for it."
Deployments to Iraq, Kosovo, Korea, Haiti, Panama and the island of Great Inagua took Gioia away from his family for seven years.
Gioia learned and lived "mission, soldier, family, team," Hammond said.
"He knew the mission was paramount, asked for no special favors, selflessly serving where he was called."
The soldier was always a priority for Gioia, training, teaching, mentoring and caring for them.
"He loved not only his family, but the families of those in his unit," Hammond said. "Helping and caring for them every step along the way - genuine, heartfelt care."
During the division's most recent deployment to Iraq as head of Multinational Division-Baghdad, Gioia spent nearly every day out of the headquarters, on the road. He took the same risks as soldiers, Hammond said, leading from the front.
"John Gioia did all that I asked of him and so much more," Hammond said. He was the voice of the soldier to the leadership of the division. Truly a soldier's soldier."
Gioia said that since he began his time with the division, his primary duty was to take care of the soldiers with whom he served.
"And I hope that I lived up to that responsibility," he said.
Philip Harvey, served as Gioia's personal security officer while in Iraq last year, and though he recently got out of the Army as a sergeant, he returned for Monday's ceremony.
"He has some good things ahead of him as he begins his post Army career," Harvey said. "He has his future ahead now and he still has a lot more to give to the Army family."
Dailey and his wife, Holly, and son, Dakota, are not new to the 4th Infantry. Dailey's most recent assignment was serving as the senior noncommissioned officer for the division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, which is based at Fort Carson, Colo.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7547.
Sgt. Philip Klein of 4th Infantry public affairs contributed to this report.