FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- After an illustrious military career that spanned more than four decades of faithful and dedicated service to the nation, Army North's deputy commanding general for support proved that pursuing the road less traveled does have a happy ending.
Fort Sam Houston civilians, military members and the local community gathered together to bid farewell to Maj. Gen. Adolph McQueen Jr. during a Sept. 17 retirement and tattoo ceremony in the historic Quadrangle.
"It's hard to put 41 years of service into perspective … but it's easy to do when you talk about a guy like "Mack" McQueen," said Lt. Gen. Perry Wiggins, commanding general for Army North (Fifth Army) and senior commander for Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis, during the ceremony.
With his heartfelt speech, Wiggins managed to draw plenty of laughs when he spoke of McQueen's initial entry into the armed forces.
"I will tell you he didn't' start off too good. First off, he started as a Marine -- and then he let them put him in a military occupational specialty where they strapped an explosive container on his back -- and it spit fire," joked Wiggins, as the audience chuckled.
McQueen enlisted in the U.S. Marines in 1971 as a flamethrower operator. After fulfilling his two-year, active-duty commitment with the Marines Corps, he returned to his hometown of Detroit to work and go to college at Wayne State University, where he graduated in 1975 with a degree in criminal justice. He later received a direct commission to the Army Reserve in 1982.
During the ceremony, McQueen reflected on his military career that spanned more than four decades. He described his voyage from the Motor City to Military City USA.
"It's been 41 years and about six months since I began the journey to this podium, not knowing when it would end," declared McQueen. "It's been a long journey, and it's been a good journey."
Wiggins doted on McQueen's commitment to service, duty and country.
"Mack, you can take great pride in that even though you're leaving our ranks today, you've left a legacy of young leaders who understand what right looks like. Your impact will be felt for many years to come," stated Wiggins. "Mack will leave with a reputation of being a Soldier's Soldier -- somebody who looks out for the welfare of others; somebody who embodies our Army's values -- a true leader."
McQueen was the face of Army North both on and off duty. The two-star general was known throughout the community. Though his military career was demanding, he could often be found visiting service members and retirees at the Veterans Affairs hospital, local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and the Warrior and Family Support Center, to name a few.
Those who knew McQueen said he was extremely passionate about service members and their families.
"Maj. Gen. McQueen's weekly visits here made a huge difference to the wounded warriors and their families," said Judith Markelz, director, WFSC. "He'd suddenly appear -- here he was with all of his power and with all of his recognition, yet he cared so deeply about our wounded warriors and their families, and it showed in everything he did and every conversation he had with them."
Before making his final remarks from the podium and rendering his final salute, McQueen shared one persistent desire with the attendees.
"All of you here have responded in one way or another to the call of the bugle with courage and self dedication to our country. Your contributions are vital," said McQueen. "As my military career draws to a close and I leave the uniformed services, my continued prayer is that we maintain and share the same courage and dedication in protecting the United States of America so that it may ever be the land of the free and the home of the brave."