A Commander’s uncommon journey

Capt. Sulaiman Bah receives the guidon for the last time as the outgoing commander during a change of command ceremony at Norwalk Armory in Norwalk, Ohio Jan. 11, 2020. (Ohio Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Christine Lorenz)
January 12, 2020

The 945th Engineer Company has lost a great member from its ranks. During the change of command ceremony Jan. 11, 2020, Capt. Sulaiman Bah passed the responsibility of leadership to Capt. Jill Hoffman. After two and a half years as the 945th commander, Bah will continue his journey with the Ohio Army National Guard at the 16th Engineer Brigade Headquarters as the plans officer. Though his military career might appear typical, the start of Bah’s journey with the Ohio Army National Guard was certainly unique.

A native of Sierra Leone, West Africa, Bah originally came to the states in August 2002 with a scholarship to finish his masters. Once he became a citizen, he joined the Ohio Army National Guard.

“There was a civil war in Sierra Leone back in the 1990s, so my experience of seeing the U.S. military evacuating the U.S. citizens and the U.S. embassy made an impression on me.” Bah said of his influence for joining the U.S. military.
Bah also spoke of a professor he had in Sierra Leone that used a lot of engineering reference materials. It was this combination of witnessing the U.S. military in his home country and exposure to engineering in school that led him to join the Ohio Army National Guard in 2010 and commission in the Engineer Branch in 2011.
In addition to his military position, Bah currently works in the engineering field in the civilian sector. He is a statewide facility engineer for the Ohio Department of Transportation. Bah’s background of engineering made it very natural for him to choose the engineer branch of the Ohio Army National Guard.

As Bah released command authority of the 945th to Hoffman, the first female to take command of the unit and former Soldier of his, he reminisced on his time with this diverse unit, calling it one of the highest points of his military career.
“During annual training, you get to be in the field with the Soldiers,” Bah said. “Sleep out there, get down and dirty and walk with them. Always trying to come up with solutions every day is probably the thing I enjoyed most about being a commander. As any commander will tell you, there’s always challenges. I will say the thing I will miss is the daily interaction of Soldiers, coming up with solutions and working together as a team to satisfy objectives.”

Although Bah is moving on, he is confident he is leaving the 945th in good hands. He is hopeful for both the 945th and his own military career.

“I’m looking forward to my next chapter,” Bah said. “Hopefully the next ten years will be very challenging, interesting and rewarding for me because so far the last ten years I’ve really enjoyed my time in the Army National Guard. I hope to make a difference going forward. I’m looking forward to the next ten years.”