FORT HOOD — A retirement ceremony for Maj. Gen. Michael J. Terry on Friday at Hildner Field was described as a family reunion.
“It’s a reunion of all of the folks that we’ve all come to love through the years, serve with in peacetime and combat and their families,” Terry said after the ceremony, which was hosted by the 13th Sustainment Command.
Terry’s two sisters; his wife, Cathy; children, Anna, Michael Jr. and James; cousin and brother-in-law and sister-in-law were among other family members in attendance.
New York resident Michael Riley attended Friday’s ceremony as a surprise to Terry and said he was present at Terry’s ceremony when he received his parachute wings in 1980 after making his fifth jump.
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” Riley said. “Especially with the service that Michael has given to our country.”
Terry’s childhood friend, retired Lt. Gen. Frank Wiercinski, presided over the ceremony.
The pair grew up in Dickson City, Pa., got their driver’s licenses together and spent their 50th birthdays together in Iraq, Wiercinski said.
“When we went outside and told our parents we were going outside to ‘play Army,’ we were serious,” he said.
Wiercinski said retirement is not about rank, title or accomplishments.
He said it’s about the legacy left behind and the soldiers commanders have trained.
During Terry’s 35-plus years of service, Wiercinski said he’s held several command positions and has paid his dues to the Army profession.
Terry is a former commander of the 64th Corps Support Group from Fort Hood and the 13th Corps Support Command, which was later designated as the 13th Sustainment Command. It provided relief following hurricanes Katrina and Rita and deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Wiercinski said.
Terry was in charge of logistics in Iraq, which included command of more than 21,000 soldiers, responsibilities for more than 3,000 vehicles on the roads and 1 million gallons of fuel crossing the border daily to support operations.
Terry’s most recent assignment was as the commander of U.S. Army Tank Automotive and Armaments Command Life Cycle Management Command headquartered in Warren, Mich.
Terry said he is going to miss the soldiers who volunteered to serve the most.
“The best of times was making friends for life,” he said. “The best of times was seeing subordinates grow successful and move forward in their careers and families. The best of times included everything every day that dealt with soldiers and their families.”
The worst of times were losing soldiers or members of soldiers’ families.
Terry said he looks forward to spending time with his family in Austin.
Although he’s no longer putting on the uniform, the Army will always be his family.
“Once a soldier, always a soldier,” he said.
Read more about Terry’s career in Wednesday’s Fort Hood Herald.