Kenneth Preston

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Not to be confused with Ken Preston.
Kenneth O. Preston
Kennth Preston 2010.jpg
Preston in 2010
Born (1957-02-18) February 18, 1957 (age 58)
Mount Savage, Maryland, U.S.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1975-2011
Rank Army-USA-OR-09a.svg Sergeant Major of the Army

Persian Gulf War

Iraq War

Awards Army Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star
Meritorious Service Medal (4)
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal (4)
Army Achievement Medal (3)

Kenneth O. Preston (born February 18, 1957) is a former United States Army soldier who served as the Sergeant Major of the Army. He was sworn in as the 13th Sergeant Major of the Army on January 15, 2004. SMA Preston held a variety of leadership positions throughout his career ranging from sergeant major to command sergeant major. He was the longest-serving Sergeant Major of the Army. He retired from the army on March 1, 2011 after nearly 36 years of service.

Early life and education[edit]

Preston is a native of Mount Savage, Maryland, and entered the U.S. Army on June 30, 1975. He attended Basic Training and Armor Advanced Individual Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky.


Preston at Kirkuk Air Base in August 2004.

As sergeant major of the army, Preston served as the army chief of staff's personal adviser on all enlisted-related matters, particularly in areas affecting soldier training and quality of life, including the adoption of the new Army Service Uniform which phases out the Army Green Uniform in 2015.[1] He was routinely invited to testify before Congress.

Throughout his 35-year career, he served in every enlisted leadership position from cavalry scout and tank commander to his position as sergeant major of the army. Other assignments he held as command sergeant major were 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, 3rd "Grey Wolf" Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, 1st Armored Division in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, and V Corps in Heidelberg, Germany. Immediately prior to his appointment as sergeant major of the army, he was the command sergeant major of Combined Joint Task Force 7 serving in Baghdad, Iraq.

His military education includes Basic Noncommissioned Officer's Course, Advanced Noncommissioned Officer's Course, First Sergeant's Course, M1/M1A1 Tank Master Gunner Course, Master Fitness Trainer Course, Battle Staff Noncommissioned Officer's Course, and the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. His civilian education includes an Associate of Arts degree in vocational education and instruction from the University of Louisville and both a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and a Master of Business Administration degree from Trident University International.

Post-military career[edit]

After retiring from active duty, Preston joined Homes for Our Troops, a national non-profit organization whose mission is to provide specialized housing to severely wounded veterans at no cost, and currently serves as an organizational director.

Awards and decorations[edit]

ArmyQualExpert.JPG Expert Marksmanship Badge with Rifle and Pistol bars
United States Army Staff Identification Badge.png Army Staff Identification Badge
11th-Armored-Cavalry-Regiment-patch.svg 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment Combat Service Identification Badge
10 CAV DUI right.png 10th Cavalry Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia
ArmyOSB.jpg 3 Overseas Service Bars
ArmySstripe.jpg 11 Service stripes
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Joint Meritorious Unit Award with oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Army Good Conduct Medal 11 awards
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with service star
Southwest Asia Service Medal
Bronze star
Kosovo Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Bronze star
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Award numeral 4.png NCO Professional Development Ribbon with award numeral 4
Army Service Ribbon
Award numeral 5.png Overseas Service Ribbon with award numeral 5
NATO Medal for Kosovo
Kuwait Liberation Medal


 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston".

  • Sergeants Major of the Army. CMH Pub. 70-63-1. By CSM Daniel K. Elder, et al. Describes the origin and growth of the Office of the Sergeant Major of the Army. Includes biographies of each of the Sergeants Major of the Army.
Military offices
Preceded by
Jack L. Tilley
Sergeant Major of the Army
Succeeded by
Raymond F. Chandler