First African American Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major (SGM) Robert Blue:

SGM Blue was born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi and graduated from Mounds Bayou High School in May 1964. He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration from Philander Smith College, Little Rock Arkansas, in May 1968.

SGM Blue began his military career when he enlisted into Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 39th Infantry Brigade (Separate), Arkansas Army National Guard on May 29, 1968. On June 23,1969, he completed Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. His Military Occupation Specialties and assignments include 71H, Personnel Specialist, HHC, 39th Infantry Brigade (Sep), 94B, Food Service Sergeant, HHC, 39th Infantry Brigade (Sep), 11B, First Sergeant, HHC, 39th Infantry Brigade (Sep), 94B, Food Service Supervisor, State Area Command, Arkansas Army National Guard, 76Z, Audit Examiner, State Area Command, Arkansas Army National Guard and 75Z, Personnel Sergeant, 119th Personnel Service Company, Arkansas Army National Guard.

On March 1, 1993, SGM Blue was promoted to E9, Sergeant Major. He is the first African American promoted to Sergeant Major in the Arkansas Army National Guard. He was assigned as Sergeant Major for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 125th Medical Battalion, North Little Rock. SGM Blue later served as Senior Supply Sergeant for 87th Troop Command, Camp J.T. Robinson, and Operations Sergeant for 25th Support Detachment Rear Tactical Operations Center (RTOC), North Little Rock.

SGM Blue’s military education includes the Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Food Service Management Course, Food Service Senior Technical Course, Senior Noncommissioned Office Course, and the Battle Staff Course. He is the recipient of several awards, medals and decorations ranging from the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Component Achievement Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Arkansas Commendation Medal, Arkansas Emergency Service Ribbon, and the Arkansas Service Ribbon.

After graduating from Philander Smith College, SGM Blue was employed by Worthen Bank and Trust Company in Little Rock and was subsequently employed by Humble Oil and Refinery Company in April 1970. His initial interview and selection for employment by Humble Oil and Refinery Company was the catalyst to what would become a successful career at Exxon Mobil where he worked for over 32 years in the areas of marketing, sales, and engineering. After his flourishing career with Exxon Mobil, SGM Blue retired from the company in October 2002. A short while after his retirement from Exxon Mobil, SGM Blue successfully owned and operated a small business in Mandeville, Louisiana from 2003 until he retired in October 2013.

SGM Blue attributes much of his success to the education, skills, and values he gained as a student at Philander Smith College. For that reason, he is committed to giving back to the institution that gave him so much. He thinks of it as “paying it forward.” For more than two decades, he has been contributing financially to the College. Not only is he committed to the College financially, but he also gives generously of his time and talent. In 2015, SGM Blue was elected to the Philander Smith College Board of Trustees. As a Trustee Board Member, he served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees’ Development Committee and in 2019, SGM Blue served as Honorary Co-Chair for the Fourth Annual President’s Scholarship Gala. He is an active member of the National Alumni Association and for his outstanding contributions to Philander Smith College, SGM Blue was featured as an Outstanding Alumni in the Fall 2018 Edition of The Philanderian Magazine. He is a lifetime member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated and the Philander Smith College Alumni Association.

SGM Robert Blue retired from the Arkansas Army National Guard on January 1, 1999, with over 30 years of distinguished military service. He has been married to his wife Carolyn for 44 years.