PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - Picatinny Garrison\'s command sergeant major retired from active service and relinquished his responsibility during a ceremony at the installation Sept. 12.

During the ceremony officiated by Picatinny Garrison Commander Lt. Col. John P. Stack, Command Sgt. Maj. John Graves said farewell to the community and the Army after spending the last 32 years serving his country.

Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Rhoades, a native of Ashville, Pa., assumed responsibility as the senior garrison enlisted representative the same day. Stack said that while it is sad when a person with such a high level of experience leaves the Army, it is "comforting to know that he and his family will be moving on to a new and important phase in their lives."

Graves, who assumed responsibility as the garrison sergeant major after arriving from Germany about a year ago, was awarded the Legion of Merit for his 10-year tenure as a sergeant major and command sergeant major.

About his arrival, Graves said that he was not sure what to expect when he arrived at Picatinny, home of more than 3,000 civilian employees.

"When I first came here and I saw the sign 'Welcome to Team Picatinny.' I asked myself, 'Is that name of the base ... Team Picatinny''"

"As time went on, I realized how you all put together a team. We go (to battle) and put our lives on the line, but you here help take care of our families," Graves said.

"If we should fall in battle, we know that you will take care of our loved ones."

Graves knows about battle. He completed two tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as warfighter deployments to Bosnia and in support of Desert Storm.

As for the incoming command sergeant major, Stack welcomed Rhoades by commenting that Picatinny's new command sergeant major has already "jumped into the position with both feet."

Rhoades responded by saying he will give everything he has to every Picatinny employee. "Soldiers are my family and now I have (another) new family."