Major David Piwawalski and his wife, Domenica, display the New York State Distinguished Service Medal during Sergeant Latham’s inauguration ceremony at the National Guard Headquarters. During the ceremony, unit responsibility was transferred from Piwawalski to Sgt. Major Edwin Garris. (photo courtesy)
Latham, NY — New York Army National Guard Command Sergeant Major David Piwawalski, a Clifton Park resident and Afghanistan War veteran, completed nearly 42 years of military service in a recent ceremony at the New York National Guard Headquarters in Latham. .
Mr. Piwawalski stepped down as the top noncommissioned officer of 10,800 soldiers and handed over the role to a sergeant. Major Edwin Garris.
A Buffalo resident, Garris previously served as the Senior Petty Officer Leader of the 4,600-man 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
New York Lieutenant General Ray Shields praised Piwawalski’s accomplishments.
“Over the years, the more I’ve seen Dave in action, the more I’ve found him to be an extraordinary leader,” Shields said.
“You embody what it means to be a sergeant major,” Shields told Pilowalski. “You will be missed, but your legacy will live on for years to come.”
As Chief Petty Officer in the New York Army Guard, Piwawalski served as a personal advisor to the lieutenant general on all matters related to the enlisted, especially those affecting training and quality of life. He traveled around the state observing training and talking to soldiers and their families.
“I am standing here after nearly 42 years of service, half of which were sergeant majors,” Pilowalski said. “It was a long trip, but mostly fun,” he joked.
“You guys have helped prepare and keep us up for the next mission,” he said. “I know this to be true because I’ve seen the faces of the people in this audience who have helped me, or who have helped me help other people. I didn’t do it alone.”
I hope you have the privilege, the honor and the health to serve such a wonderful organization as long as I have,” Pilowalski said. “I am proud of this generation that will take us into the future and the next generation that will do things differently than we do, but they will do it.”
Born in Buffalo, New York, Piwawalski joined the Army in September 1981 and served four years in the 82nd Airborne Division as a paratrooper.
While in the active service, Piwawalski served in airborne operations in Spain, completed jungle warfare training in Panama, and graduated from the 18th Airborne Corps Reconnaissance Commando Course. He left the division as Infantry Team Leader in his April 1986 with the rank of Sergeant.
About a month later, Piwawalski enlisted in the New York Army National Guard in Buffalo, serving in the 174th Infantry Regiment as an Infantry Squad Leader and Platoon Sergeant until 1992. In 1988, he was named the first U.S. Army and Military Command Noncommissioned Officer of the Year by the entire Army National Guard.
After serving as Company Sergeant First Class, Pilowalski twice served as Battalion Command Sergeant Major and was deployed to Afghanistan as Command Sergeant Major with the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The brigade worked with Afghan security forces and NATO partners on combat operations, security and training.
In 2010, he was appointed Chief of Training and Operations Sergeant of the New York Army National Guard at Joint Forces Headquarters in Latham.
He served as Chief of Operations for the 42nd Infantry Division and Chief of Operations for the Joint Operations Center of the New York National Guard.
He became the New York State Lieutenant General’s Senior Noncommissioned Officer’s Advisor on all Army enlisted matters and, since November 2015, has personally managed the New York State Sergeant Major Corps.
For a time, he also served as a senior noncommissioned officer in the New York National Guard and worked on Air National Guard issues.
His duties included overseeing joint events and joint operations, and working with national partners in South Africa and Brazil to develop NCO and NCO training and instruction opportunities.
Mr. Piwawalski served for many years as the regional director of the Sgt. He is also a member of the National Guard Advisory Board, which focuses on joint issues at the National Guard level.
During his tenure, he oversaw and participated in several New York National Guard emergency response missions.
Piwawalski graduated from the U.S. Army Sgt. He holds a BS in Economics from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
His awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Afghanistan Operations Medal, Global War on Terrorism Merit Medal, NATO Medal, French Defense Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Combat Infantry Medal, and Veteran Infantry Medal.
Prior to becoming a full-time Guardsman, Piwawalski worked in the private financial sector.
Piwawalski and his wife, former Cheektowaga Domenica Pisano, married in September 1996.
They include two people: Alexa, who does digital and legal work at Warner Music Group, based in New York City, and Brian, the operations supervisor for the Fort Douglas Reserve Personnel Activities Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have grown-up children. Brian is also a Sergeant with the 438th Military Police Detachment in the United States Army Reserve.