Twenty seven years ago WSMR Command Sgt. Maj. William Wofford joined the United States Army in hopes of finding a long term career that would allow him to support his family. Before joining the Army, Wofford said he never imagined himself as a Soldier and even when he mentioned the idea to people he knew they said it wouldn't be a good fit for him. But, he said it was exactly what he needed to develop into the person he is today.
"The career picks the man," he said. "This is what I'm supposed to be doing."
He said growing up he was hoping to be a football player and he got close to his dream when he joined the Cincinnati Bengals for a couple of pre-season games. Shortly after though he was released from the Bengals and went back to his job in Coffeyville, Kansas, his hometown. One night he was having dinner with his wife and an Army recruiter left a business card on their table.
"I didn't think anything of it at the time," he said.
He mentioned the idea of joining the Army to one of his college coaches who advised it may not be a good fit due to his problem with authority. Wofford, who grew up and aged out of the foster care system, said he didn't realize he had a problem with authority until he joined the Army.
"It made me grow up," he said. "I was a hot-headed kid. I had this big chip on my shoulder and I just displayed this hatred. I thought everyone was against me."
He said growing up in the foster care system made him feel like he was a bad kid until he was placed with two families who cared. He only considers those two families to be family and he still calls two of the siblings from the first family his sisters.
Wofford had already joined ROTC and the reserves because of a stipend they offered at the time. He denied commission and was released from his reserve duty in order to join the Army. He joined on February 15, 1990 and deployed to Kuwait within six months.
"I remember driving around in Kuwait and thinking, 'I can't believe I'm here,'" he said.
Of his 27 years with the Army, Wofford said the Army taught him discipline first and foremost. He said he always considered himself to be a leader even before his time in the Army. He hated bullies and was always bigger than everyone else and he said he could fight, so he did. He learned during his time in the Army that there are good leaders and there are bad leaders. There were leaders who could be leaders and be non-productive.
"Being a good leader means getting people to follow you in a productive manner," he said. Wofford recently transitioned from Garrison Command Sergeant Major to the Installation Command Sergeant Major. A Change of Responsibility ceremony was held behind the Frontier Club Dec. 5. He said his goal in his new title is to bring back that camaraderie and close knit community feel that he always hears retired employees relish about.
"I want to get that Team WSMR concept back," he said. "I know it's never going to be at that magnitude as it was back in the 90s but we can still have that relationship where it's 'one fight, one team.'"
Most importantly, he said he wants the community to know that his door is always open.
"I will always have a minute to talk to someone," he said.