|Volume No. 1 Issue No. 24 - Friday, July 12, 2002
|US Army Taskforce Command Sergeant Major Ralph Alcendor
Dominican on the Front Lines in Afghanistan
by: Thomson Fontaine
the screaming eagles of the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky took over from the marines in Kandahar on the front lines of the search for Bin Laden, leading the charge was a high ranking Dominican in the US military.
Meet Command Sergeant Major Ralph Alcendor from Grand Bay and currently second in command of Camp Talon (inset), the US army airfield in Kandahar, arguably the most dangerous place in the world.
CSM Alcendor is no stranger to danger having participated in some of the US military's largest campaigns in recent history. In 1991, he was on the front lines in Desert Storm and Desert Shield, Operation Restore Hope in Somalia in 1993, and Operation Provide Comfort in Haiti in 1994.
In his latest deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom, he serves as the Aviation Task Force Command Sergeant Major, a high ranking noncommissioned officer in the army.
While CSM Alcendor could not reveal to the Dominican his current operational role in Kandahar, it is clear that his contigent is currently leading the search for Al Qeada, and Taliban operatives in Afghanistan. He and his group have come under hostile fire several times presumably from Al Qeada elements and have had to deal with the ever present land mines in the area.
Born in Grand Bay, CSM Alcendor attended the St. Mary's Academy and witnessed first hand the disruptions in Dominican society during the 'Black- Power' protests of the late sixties and early seventies.
His grand father was one of the many Dominican policemen who traveled to Nevis in the 1920s to serve on the Leeward Islands Police Force. His father Ralph Ralphord was born in Nevis, but later travelled to Dominica .
The decorated career army officer joined the US army in 1978 in St. Thomas US Virgin Islands, underwent basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and has never looked back. His son Roger is also in the US military. CSM Alcendor's military education includes the 8th ID Noncommissioned Officer's Academy, the First Sergeant's Course, and the Sergeants Major Academy.
He holds a degree from Sunny College, New York, and a First Class FCC License in electronics.
Before deploying in Kandahar, Afghanistan, he was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky having returned from Korea where he served as the Installation Sergeant Major 20th Support Group in Camp Hialeah, Pusan. Prior to that he served as First Sergeant, C Company, 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment for 2 1/2 years, and Command Sergeant Major, 9th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment at Fort Campbell, Kentuky.
CSM Alcendor's earlier assignments include Aviation Maintenance NCOIC, HQ's, 1st Army, Fort Gillem, GA; First Sergeant, A Company, 210th Aviation Regiment, Fort Drum, NY; and Production Control NCOIC, E Company, Air Assault Division Support Command (DISCOM), Fort Drum, NY.
Among his decorations are the Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, South West Asia Service Medal with one star, Kuwait Liberation Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with one star, Humanitarian Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon #4, Joint Unit Meritorious Unit Achievement, Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal (7th award), the National Defense Service Medal, the Aircraft CBM Badge, and the Air Assault Badge.