Senior Enlisted Military Adviser John Troxell Retires with Warning to ISIS: ‘Surrender or Die!’

Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman (SEAC) of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, revived his famous warning to members of terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to raucous cheers during his retirement ceremony Friday.

“When it comes to ISIS they got two options — they can surrender or they can die!” he said. “If they choose not to surrender, then we will kill them with extreme prejudice, whether that is by, with, and through our partner forces, dropping bombs on them, shooting them in the face, or if need be, beating them to death with our entrenching tools! … God Bless America!”

Troxell retired after 37 years in the Army in a ceremony at Fort Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia and relinquished his command as SEAC to Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ramon “CZ” Colon-Lopez.

Colon-Lopez will be the U.S. military’s fourth SEAC, who advises the chairman on matters related to the joint enlisted force. He will be the first airman to serve in the position. He last served as the senior enlisted leader at U.S. Africa Command.

“As your SEAC, I stand ready to be beside you to your left or to your right, ensuring you and your families that you are never alone,” Colon-Lopez said in remarks at the ceremony.

Top military leaders thanked Troxell for his decades of service and long list of accomplishments.

Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted Troxell’s accomplishments during his time as SEAC. “Four years ago, Sgt. Maj. Troxell, SEAC Troxell, took the flag and embarked on a mission to improve the health of the force through physical fitness, mental fitness, spiritual fitness that make us the whole and well-balanced war-fighters that we are,” he said.

“He committed himself to improving professional education across all the services, advocating for opportunities in civilian schools, along with advanced training and education in specific MOS skills. SEAC Troxell also dedicated himself to working with allies and partners, specifically advocating for senior enlisted and non-commissioned officer development in over a dozen countries,” he said.

“Sergeant major, during your four years as SEAC, and more importantly, during your entire career in the military … you have touched the lives of countless troops that have served our country, and you have done it with extraordinary grace, talent, and skill,” he said.

He also thanked Troxell’s spouse, Sandra Troxell, for her tireless commitment to helping military families. “Thank you both for a lifetime of incredible service and sacrifice both in peacetime and in combat.”

Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, former commander of the U.S. European Command and supreme allied commander Europe, who is a close friend of Troxell, also made remarks on his career.

“Here we recognize a command sergeant major and senior enlisted leader that exemplifies what it takes to go all the way. And the true north of his success … Troxell is a genuine leader by example, who drove himself to be prepared for the worst of days, who cared about those he served and inspired all around him, both junior and senior,” he said.

“Command Sgt. Maj. Troxell has spent most of his time in Cav and Airborne units, so he grew up with that spirit — those who train to be in first and out front in battle. Command Sgt. Maj. Troxell’s well-known drive to endure adversity and his tenacity in accomplishing any task was a product of his experience,” he added.

Troxell welcomed his successor and thanked a long list of friends, family, and mentors, as well as senior military leaders and men and women in uniform.

“Today I walk away from this profession that I have truly loved. And I will always cherish the memories of the almost four decades of being a servant to our nation. The good, the bad, the unforgiving memories of combat and the exhilarating moments of reuniting with my family after a combat tour will always be foremost in my mind. I will cherish them all,” he said.

“And as Sandra and I depart from this life, I walk away with no regrets and only thankful that I had the opportunity to serve, that I had the opportunity to serve with the finest people that our nation and any nation could produce, those that swore an oath that said, ‘Not on my watch will I allow any threat to impinge on our freedoms and way of life,’” he said.

He noted he was leaving with a bit of sadness but added, “I go with a smile and pride because I had the opportunity to serve alongside some heavy pipe hitters like these troops in formation who represent our lethal, ready, and fit force.”

“I’ll be beaming with pride as I watch the future of our armed forces from afar,” he added.


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