What started as time owed for an ROTC scholarship for Maj. Gen. Michael J. Terry, turned into a 35-year career colleagues describe as a legacy.
The 13th Sustainment Command hosted a retirement ceremony for Terry on Friday at Ford Hood’s Hildner Field.
Terry’s childhood friend, retired Lt. Gen. Frank Wiercinski, officiated the ceremony.
Wiercinski said retirement is not about rank, title or accomplishments, which can be forgotten.
“It’s about families and soldiers you took care of,” he said.
Wiercinski said part of Terry’s legacy is about command.
In 1979, Terry served with the division support command of the 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
He later served as an officer to the director for the Directorate for Logistics and Security Assistance and deployed during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Terry commanded Fort Hood’s 64th Corps Support Group, which deployed with nearly 5,000 soldiers to Iraq during the opening phase of the conflict.
He also led the 13th Corps Support Command, which later became the 13th Sustainment Command.
The 13th Sustainment deployed to New Orleans and Southwest Louisiana in support of humanitarian relief efforts after hurricanes Katrina and Rita and to Iraq.
Terry was a senior logistician for all of the logistics in Iraq and theater superior command, Wiercinski said.
He commanded more than 21,000 soldiers, 3,000 trucks and vehicles and 1 million gallons of fuel crossing the border each day to support operations, Wiercinski said.
Terry also led 8th Theater Sustainment Command, which supports to the U.S. Army throughout the Pacific.
Wiercinski said that’s where Terry shined to rebalance the Asia Pacific, which is about logistics.
Terry was a general officer for more than nine years and spent that time in command.
Through Terry’s command, Wiercinski said an example of Terry’s legacy is a comment made by retired Col. Christine Gayagas.
Gayagas served as Terry’s chief of staff and deputy commander for the 13th Sustainment Command.
According to Wiercinski, Gayagas said Terry didn’t shy away from decisions. After deploying to Iraq, she said she felt she would never find another rewarding Army family again and felt it was a good time to transition.
“That’s legacy,” Wiercinski said. “That’s what you leave behind, and you can’t buy that.”
Terry’s most recent assignment was as commander of U.S. Army Tank Automotive and Armaments Command Life Cycle Management Command headquartered in Warren, Mi.
Terry said he chose to have his retirement ceremony at Fort Hood because of 34 names on the 13th Sustainment Command memorial adjacent to Hildner Field.
The worst of times in the Army was losing soldiers in garrison and on the battlefield or soldiers losing their own family members, he said.
Terry said the best of times in service centered on the camaraderie, making friends for life, seeing subordinates move forward with their careers and families and returning home to family from deployment.
“We’ve been at war for a long time now, and the young men and women who have stepped up and volunteered and put the uniform on ... are clearly the next generation,” Terry said.
He said he’ll miss them the most.
Through the best, worst and proudest of times, Terry said he’s proud to be a husband, father and soldier.
Of all of Terry’s decisions, Wiercinski said the best he made was when he met his wife Cathy in 1985 when she was a Defense Department school teacher in Germany. Wiercinski said she is an example to Army spouses and a leader herself.
New York resident Michael Riley attended Friday’s ceremonies as a surprise to Terry, and said Cathy has always been an advocate for Army families.
“The Army got two for the price of one with Michael and Cathy,” Riley said.
Terry said he plans to retire in Austin to begin the next phase of his life with Cathy and spend more time with adult children Anna, Michael Jr. and James as well as with family and friends.
As they transition, he said the Army will always be his family. “Once a soldier, always a soldier,” he said.
Contact Rachael Riley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7553