Kenneth Preston

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Kenneth O. Preston
Kennth Preston 2010.jpg
Preston in 2010
Born (1957-02-18) February 18, 1957 (age 60)
Mount Savage, Maryland, U.S.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 30 June 1975 -March 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 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 to Sergeant Major of the Army.

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 in A Company, 11th Training Battalion, 5th Training Brigade, Fort Knox, Kentucky and Armor Advanced Individual Training in D Company, 3rd Training Battalion, 1st Training Brigade Fort Knox, Kentucky graduating in October 1975.


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 [soldier]-related matters, particularly in all areas affecting soldier manning, equipping, training, education and quality of life. These areas included growing an all-volunteer force across all three components of the Army by 100K during a time of war; fielding individual combat uniforms, body armor, weapons and up-armored vehicles; training leaders and their units for deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq; transitioning the noncommissioned officer education system at all levels to support an Army at war; advocated for dwell time between deployments and co-signed the Army Family Covenant with the Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff of the Army.[1] He was routinely invited to testify before US Congress.

Throughout his 36-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 a 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]

August 2011 to Present, Preston volunteers as the co-chair of the Chief of Staff of the Army's Retired Soldier Counsel. The 14-member counsel works with the Army staff, supporting agencies and subject matter experts to review all recommendations and issues submitted from the field impacting retired soldiers and surviving spouses from the Army. The counsel prepares a final report with all recommendations for the Chief of Staff of the Army.

October 2011 to Present, Preston volunteers as a member the Board of Directors for Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit organization with the mission to build and donate specially adapted homes to severely wounded veterans at no cost. Severely wounded veterans in need of a specially adapted home as qualified by the VA predominately spend all or part of their daily life in a wheelchair. Many of these veterans are young with young children. A specially adapted home allows the veteran total access to all rooms in the home to including a child's nursery, use of all kitchen and laundry facilities and garage to support their reintegration back into their family and their community.

May 2013 to Present, Preston serves as the Vice President of noncommissioned officer and soldier programs at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA). AUSA is the Army's professional educational association and serves as a voice for the Army and support for the soldier.

Awards and decorations[edit]

US Army Expert Marksmanship Qualification Badge-Generic.png Expert Marksmanship Badge with Rifle and Pistol bars
United States Army Staff Identification Badge.png Army Staff Identification Badge
11th Armored Cavalry Regiment CSIB.svg 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment Combat Service Identification Badge
10 CAV DUI right.png 10th Cavalry Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia
ASU overseas service bar.jpg 3 Overseas Service Bars
Service stripe.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
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Army Good Conduct Medal (11 awards)
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with service star
Southwest Asia Service Medal
Kosovo Campaign Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Award numeral 4.png NCO Professional Development Ribbon with bronze award numeral 4
Army Service Ribbon
Award numeral 5.png Overseas Service Ribbon with award numeral 5
NATO Medal for Kosovo
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)


 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