Senator Collins Honors Lewiston Native on 27 Years of Service in the Army, Presents Him with Legion of Merit

Sergeant Major Derek Gondek is the recipient of numerous medals, including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart

Click HERE for a high-resolution photo of Senator Collins and SGM Gondek.

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ remarks.  Click HERE for high-resolution video.

Click HERE to watch SGM Gondek’s remarks.  Click HERE for high-resolution video.


Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins hosted a ceremony on Capitol Hill this morning to honor Sergeant Major Derek Gondek, who retired after 27 years in the U.S. Army.  Senator Collins presented SGM Gondek with the Legion of Merit and a certificate recognizing his exceptional service. 


SGM Gondek was born in Lewiston and graduated from Lewiston High School in 1991.  He joined the Army on July 3, 1992, and rose through the ranks to become a senior non-commissioned officer.  He also served in Senator Collins’ office as an Army legislative fellow for one year beginning in January 2017.


“I have been fortunate to have had many members of the military on my staff.  Their knowledge, experience, and work ethic have been invaluable.  As a Defense Fellow in my office for a year, Derek, a true son of Maine, provided a shining example of those qualities,” said Senator Collins.  “Derek’s outstanding research and insights greatly aided me in my work on the Intelligence Committee and on two Appropriations Subcommittees.”


“Derek, you are a soldier and a citizen in the best American tradition,” Senator Collins continued.  “I look forward to the impact you will make as a civilian leader, just as you have done as a great soldier.  You have much to be proud of, and we are proud of you.”


“…I would like to extend my thanks to Senator Collins for her undying work in representing the people of Maine and for hosting today’s ceremony,” SGM Gondek said at today’s ceremony.  “For those military members and those who work in the national security arena, we must always remember at this moment there are evil savages out there that are training and plotting to kill Americans.  Our nation will respond by sending an 18-year-old son or daughter off to a foreign land to eliminate that threat.  So as you take action and make decisions, I ask that all of them are done to ensure that that 18-year-old is successful and able to return home.”


SGM Gondek has served in numerous positions and assignments, including rifleman, 1st BN, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Polk, LA; Team Leader, United Nations Command, Joint Security Area, Korea; Squad Leader 1st BN, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg, NC; Jumpmaster instructor, 1st BN, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Benning, GA; Platoon Sergeant, 1st BN, 506th INF (AASLT), Korea; Platoon Sergeant, 3rd BN, 325 Airborne Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg, NC; First Sergeant, 2nd BN, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg, NC; Operations Sergeant Major, 2nd BN, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg, NC; Operations Sergeant Major, 4th, BDE, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, KS; Command Sergeant Major, 2nd BN, 27th INF Reg, Schofield Barracks, HI, and Observer Coach Trainer CSM, Warhog Team, JMRC, Hohenfels, GE.


SGM Gondek’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (3OLC), Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal (3OLC), Army Commendation Medal (2OLC), Army Achievement Medal (4OLC), Army Good Conduct Medal (7th AWD), National Defense Service Medal (1BSS), Valorous Unit Award, Navy Unit Commendation, Afghan Campaign Medal (2CS), Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon (Numeral 4), Overseas Service Ribbon (Numeral 4), NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, and the Pathfinder Badge.


SGM Gondek and his wife, Maura, have three daughters: Winifred (13), Eleanor (13), and Zoey (10).  During today’s ceremony, Senator Collins also presented Maura with the spouse’s certificate to recognize the nation’s appreciation for the family support that helped make Derek’s service possible.