Trio looks back on 64 years of military service
Master Sgt. Renee Baldwin, Master Sgt. Mark Owens and Sgt. 1st Class Elke Williams stand (at parade rest) while being honored during a community retirement ceremony June 28 in Wiesbaden.

WIESBADEN, Germany - Three NCOs with 64-years of combined service formally said goodbye to the Army during a retirement ceremony June 29.

"It was a wonderful 24 years," said Master Sgt. Mark Owens of his time in the Army. "It's just amazing how the time flies. It truly goes fast."

During the ceremony, Master Sgt. Renee Baldwin received the Legion of Merit and Owens and Sgt. 1st Class Elke Williams each received the Meritorious Service Award. All three also received a Certificate of Appreciation from President Barack Obama.

Col. Derek Orndorff, 5th Signal Command deputy commander, spoke during the event, which the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden held at the Little Italy Restaurant and Catering Center. He praised the NCOs for making a difference during their service.

"It is safe to say that our next generation of Army leaders will succeed because of your sacrifice, hard work and contribution, and finally today, you're leading us one more time, to the place where all Soldiers dream of," said Orndorff. "You're finally going home."

For two of the Soldiers, Baldwin and Owens, home is and will continue to be Germany.

Baldwin, who was born in Augsburg and was first stationed there in the Army, said she plans to stay in Wiesbaden and look for a job. She worked as the 5th Signal Command Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention representative and master resiliency trainer.

She also plans to finish her coursework for a bachelor's degree in business administration through the University of Maryland University College in December, Baldwin said.

"It's been a good ride," Baldwin said. "The Army has been a blessing to me and my Family. It's been a great chapter in my life, but I'm looking forward to continuing my book."

Owens, whose wife Tina is German, spent most of his Army career in Germany and plans to stay here and get a job in either human resources or information technology, he said. He is a native of Detroit and was stationed in Baumholder with the 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

He particularly enjoyed helping Soldiers and Family members as a first sergeant, Owens said.

Williams, who was born a German citizen, joined the Army in 1992 and became a U.S. citizen six years later, said she plans to move to Fort Hood, Texas, and join her husband, a command sergeant major.

Williams, who worked as the 5th Signal Command senior transportation supervisor, said she plans to go to school, study languages and get a part-time job. A dog is also in order, she said.

Orndorff said the NCOs performed the most crucial task in the entire Army - leading Soldiers.

"Their careers reflect the embodiment of leadership, and our core values, among the myriad of other duties and missions, these NCOs performed the most crucial task in the entire Army, and that is leading Soldiers," Orndorff said. "Mentoring and molding our next generation of leaders carries more honor than any other accolade I can bestow on them."

Page last updated Tue July 17th, 2012 at 00:00