FORT BRAGG (WTVD) -- Born to be a NCO. That's how everyone who's had a chance to talk about Command Sergeant Major Isaia T. Vimoto describes his storied career.
From humble beginnings and climbing the Army ladder through hard work and perseverance, through triumph and tragedy, they say he's embodied the song played for him on Fort Bragg Friday morning.
Vimoto, the former XVIII Airborne Corps Command Sergeant Major, was celebrated in a retirement ceremony held in the Noncommissioned Officers Academy auditorium. Flanked by family and friends, Vimoto spoke of his dreams to become a soldier as a young boy growing up in the American Somoa. All he wanted to do was fight like the warriors he watched on television.
"Well I'll tell you as an island boy, I never though in my wildest dreams I'd make it this far in the Army," Vimoto told the audience.
What began as a plan to serve a few years, and then a few more, turned into a 34 year career for Vimoto, who became a part of military history for his roles in combat and a part of headlines for the son his family lost in battle in 2007.
It was then that Private First Class Timothy Vimoto, following in his father's footsteps, deployed alongside him in Afghanistan. The younger Vimoto would die in a small-arms fire on June 5th.
Three years later, his father would return to the same battlefields, serving this time as General Daniel B. Allyn's right hand man, leading troops along the frontlines through the Regional Command East.
Allyn, the Army's current Vice Chief of Chief and former Corps commander, returned to Fort Bragg from the Pentagon to honor Vimoto.
He affectionately called his battle buddy Ace, describing their quick meeting before heading off to Afghanistan. Vimoto, Allyn said, would be the best NCO he could have by his side, although he'd only see him on weekends because Vimoto insisted on leaving headquarters to stay by his soldiers' sides during the week.
"During the long and challenging days in Afghanistan, I always looked forward to Saturday and Sunday because they were the two days I got to look my Battle Buddy in the eye," Allyn said.
"The next morning, SGM. Vimoto would be out again, caring for soldiers, solving problems for commanders and leading from the front," said Allyn. "This is the enduring image I carry with me of Ace. Running back out to the soldiers in the field. The consummate professional committed to a lifetime of service to others."
Vimoto credited his mother, former platoon sergeant and his wife, Misimua, with encouraging him to stick with the Army.
The husband and father of five, including two soldier daughters, says the family will retire in Washington State.
"Look us up if you're in the area. We'll be the only Vimotos out there," he laughed.
Vimoto's Top 5
Vimoto ended his retirement ceremony with a helpful Vimoto Top 5 list for leadership and success.
1) "We not I."-While winning includes an 'I," Team does not, Vimoto reminds the audience. When you take care of people, they will help you become successful, he said.
2) "Destination Disease"- "Don't get comfortable," Vimoto warns. That's when your career becomes stagnate. Vimoto say s you've "gotta continue to improve."
3) Standards-Vimoto encouraged the audience to carry them wherever they go, and apply them to whatever situation they may face.
4) "Attitude is everything"-The saying speaks for itself.
5) "Inspire or Retire-" If you've lost your passion for the Army or whatever you do, it's time to give it up, Vimoto said. "You'll know when your time is," he told the audience. "The Army shouldn't have to usher you out. We control our destiny."
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