“Today brings to a close long and distinguished careers of three officers, one warrant officer and three non-commissioned officers that total 195 years of collective service. Between the seven amazing Americans that will stand in front of this formation today, they have served our nation selflessly for nearly two centuries,” said McQueen.
The paths the retiring Soldiers have followed as they progressed through their careers reflect the dedication to grow their ability to make ever increasing contributions to the Army and the Army Reserves. Two of which served in other branches of the Armed Forces. Cole originally enlisted in the Air Force while Joiner served two years in the Marine Corps Reserve. Peck also started her career as an enlisted Soldier in the Army Reserve as a Private. Cole, Joiner and Peck then went on to earn their college degrees and commissioned as Officers in the Army Reserve.
Maj. Gen. Mark T. McQueen watches as the colors are retired during a retirement ceremony held for seven retiring Army Reserve Soldiers at the Westin Hotel’s Providence Ballroom in Charlotte, North Carolina, Nov. 5. U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton
While the ceremony had the traditional pageantry and decorum that is to be expected in all military observances, McQueen introduced some levity during his remarks which served the dual purpose of providing some nostalgia while putting the significance of these Soldiers combined years of service into perspective by using the music, pop culture and sports events that were popular during the year the first retiring Soldier entered service.
“There were 17 different number one songs on the Billboard chart in 1982 when the first person entered service and it is nearly impossible to pick the best one. The year began with “Physical” by Olivia Newton John, “Ebony and Ivory” by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, and one of my personal favorites, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. As a graduate of Auburn University, any song with a tiger in it has to be awesome, isn’t that right?” said McQueen.
McQueen went on to mention the Space Shuttle program, popular televisions like “Magnum P.I.” and “Dynasty” and the beginning of baseball great Cal Ripkin’s career which went on to set the record for the most consecutive games played.
Seven Soldiers were honored for their many years of service during a retirement ceremony held by the 108th Training Command (Initial Entry Training) on Nov. 5 in the Westin Hotel’s Providence Ballroom in Charlotte, N.C. U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton
The references to eighty’s pop culture did much to show the contrast between the different generations of Soldiers.
“Much has happened since these great individuals entered service and the world has changed immensely. Each one of them had a part in that change. Today we honor two logisticians, a military police officer, an air traffic control specialist, a transportation coordinator and two of my fellow Adjutant General Corps officers,” said McQueen.
McQueen continued by illustrating the enormous amount of change these seven Soldiers have seen evolve. The technology used on the battlefield has gone from a simple operations center using maps, overlays and radios to the current tactical operations centers using the latest in electronics and communications systems which ensure the United States Army continues to be the most lethal fighting force the world has ever seen.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 (Ret.) Karen Kay holds a piece or retirement cake with her picture etched in the icing after a retirement ceremony in Charlotte, N.C., Nov. 5, in which Kay and six other Soldiers were honored for their collective 195 years of Service to the nation. U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton
The ceremony continued on with the retiring Soldiers and their Families receiving their final awards and Certificates of Appreciation presented by McQueen and an American flag being presented to each of them by the Command Sergeant Major of the 108th Training Command (IET), Command Sgt. Maj. Robert J. Ritti. In between the awards and the presentation of the flags, there were emotional moments where the retiring Soldiers presented gifts to their family members for the support and sacrifice that made all the difference in their success.
In closing the ceremony, McQueen charged the retiring Soldiers with a new responsibility, assuring them that even as civilians, they will continue to have an important mission, one that ensures American citizens will be reminded about all of their fellow citizens who make the decision to become Soldiers and assume the awesome responsibilities that come with that title.
“I know that today, the Army loses some great team mates and that there will be a gap, a void that they are leaving behind. As they take of the uniform of the United States Army, they are not just taking this uniform off, they are stepping into a new uniform, serving as ambassadors of the United States Army, telling the Army story where ever they go,” said McQueen.