Kenneth. O. Preston — U.S. Army Retired Sergeant

Arlington, VA—Prominently featured in The Inner Circle, Kenneth O. Preston is acknowledged as a Top Pinnacle Professional for his contributions to Military Leadership.

Mr. Preston began his academic journey at the University of Louisville in 1989 where he earned an Associate of Arts in Vocational Education and Instruction. He then focused on military studies at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy in Fort Bliss, Texas from 1995 to 1996. After 10 years in military studies, he returned to civilian education and attended Trident University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 2007 and a Master of Business Administration in 2009. A Renaissance man, he has studied automotive mechanics technology coursework at the Lincoln College of Technology in recent years.

Reaching the rank of Sergeant Major of the Army, Mr. Preston joined the military after high school with the intent of serving for only four years. However, he fell in love with the people and the mission. Serving for more than 35 years, Mr. Preston has held various leadership roles, including cavalry scout and tank commander. He had been a deputy commandant of the Noncommissioned Officer Academy at Fort Knox Kentucky between 1994 and 1995 before shifting to command sergeant major. He served in this post for the 3rd Battalion of the 8th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division from 1996 until 1998; the 3rd Grey Wolf Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division from 1998 to 1999; the 1st Armored Division between 2000 and 2001; and the V Corps and Combined Joint Task Force 7 from 2001 until 2003.

A testament to his distinguished leadership, Mr. Preston was honorably appointed as the 13th Sergeant Major of the Army, a unique non-commissioned rank and office within the United States Army. In this capacity, he earned distinction as the most senior enlisted member of the Army from 2004 until his retirement in 2011 as the longest-serving incumbent to do so since the creation of the office in 1966. Among his duties during this time, Mr. Preston advised the chief of staff of the U.S. Army on all matters of discipline, training, and quality of life during a period of intense action abroad in the Middle East. He was also consistently invited to testify before the U.S. Congress regarding these subjects.

Continuing his service even after his retirement from the military, Mr. Preston took on the role as co-chair of the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Retired Soldier Counsel from 2011 to 2016 and as the vice president of the non-commissioned officer and soldier programs of the Association of the U.S. Army between 2013 and 2020. He explained that this program seeks to provide a voice for soldiers and honors those who have provided security on behalf of the nation. He has continued to hold a senior fellowship at the nonprofit organization since 2020 even after his tenure in the program. Mr. Preston also served as president of Homes for Our Troops from 2012 to 2013, which is a charitable endeavor that strives to build and donate homes adapted for use by severely wounded veterans at no cost. He has served as a board member since 2013.

Aside from his military career, Mr. Preston has also dedicated time as a military advisor since 2015 for Veterans United Home Loans, a mortgage lender for Veterans Affairs loans that is based in Columbia, Missouri. He has offered his expertise in a similar role for Veterans United Realty and has held numerous leadership roles for other organizations, including the Institute for Veterans and Military Families; the Eagle’s Watch Foundation; and the Army Historical Foundation.

Dedicated to lifelong service, Mr. Preston has been awarded many honors during his career, including the Army Distinguished Service Medal; a Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster; a Bronze Star Medal; a Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters; a Joint Service Commendation Medal; and an Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, among many others. He was the first enlisted soldier to receive the George C. Marshall Award from the Association of the United States Army, which honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the military and the nation.

Known for his bravery, passion, and sense of duty, Mr. Preston attributes his success to great leaders. He plans to remain engaged in military-related endeavors while also dedicating time to his various hobbies, including golf, automotive maintenance, and quality time with friends and family.

Mr. Preston notes that his mentors are Delbert Stark, Skip Ashton, Dick Morgan, Gary Pastine, and Jake Fryer. He would like to dedicate this honor to his wife, Karen, and thank her for her love and support.

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