After spending 38 years in the military, Arkansas' first African-American sergeant major is preparing to retire.

After spending 38 years in the military, Arkansas’ first African-American sergeant major is preparing to retire.

“I’m ready to go home,” said Ester Crockett of Pine Bluff. “I’ve been in the military long enough.”

Crockett was promoted to her present rank — the highest enlisted rank in the Army — in September 2012.

She began her military career on active duty in 1974, then joined the Arkansas Guard in 1976.

“It’s a good job and good people and with this economy, people need something,” Crockett said.

Her first assignment in the Guard was as a repair parts specialist with the 1122nd Transportation Company. She then transferred to the 455th Transportation Battalion where she held a number of different positions, with her final duty assignment as senior personnel sergeant before being hired as a full-time employee in 1985.

She remained with the 455th until that unit was deactivated, then joined the 2nd Battalion, 114th Aviation as senior personnel sergeant.

Crockett was promoted to the rank of master sergeant (E-8) in June 2001 and transferred to Detachment 1, 87th Troop Command where she was senior personnel sergeant. In 2006, she joined the Directorate of Logistics in Commercial Transportation as the Traffic Management Specialist.

“I’m honored to have worked in so many different areas and trained so many soldiers,” Crockett said. “I tell them right in the beginning if they follow the rules and regulations, be trustworthy and have integrity, they’ve got it made.”

She plans to retire on March 31 and said one of the first things on her agenda will be a cruise to Alaska.

A member of Mt. Nebo Missionary Missionary Baptist Church, Crockett is the mother of two sons, Sydney Rancifer and Derrick Crockett.