FORT STEWART, Ga. -- For some the Army is a stepping stone to further job opportunities, but for one warrant officer the Army was a career and his way of life.

In a recognition ceremony, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jose Negron Cruz, the most senior warrant officer in the Army, celebrated and formally ended his 44-year Army career Oct. 8 at the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Main Post Chapel.

"I had the opportunity to sit with (Negron Cruz) and walk down memory lane," said Col. Thomas Vandal, deputy commanding general for support. "It was amazing, the history he has helped make and see."

As Negron Cruz approached his retirement ceremony, "The Godfather of the warrant officers," as he's known throughout the division, didn't think he would have ever come to this day.

"My wife kept pushing me to stay longer and longer in the military," said Negron Cruz, the Division G-4 senior supply officer. "I liked it and I enjoyed it."

During the ceremony, Vandal spoke of what it was like and the price of things when Negron Cruz joined.

"Let me put 44 years in perspective," Vandal said. "When Jose first entered military service, a gallon of gas was 31 cents. The average price of a home was $13,600, and 95 percent of the soldiers in the Army weren't even born yet."

Though Negron Cruz is leaving the military, he will be remembered for the people lives he has affected and the things he has done while serving.

"It's been an honor and privilege to serve alongside a great American like (Negron Cruz)," Vandal said. "You lived the Army Values, you have sacrificed for our country for (more than) 44 years, and you have certainly served as a role model and mentor for all of our division."

To end the ceremony Negron Cruz took time to thank the many Soldiers and other service members who served with him throughout his career and gave some outgoing advice for future Soldiers.

"Stay focused, learn the job, and learn the equipment," Negron Cruz said. "Get educated, support the commander and keep on going."

Negron Cruz joined the Army in 1964 during the height of the Vietnam War in a way to see the world.

After only initially joining for three years, Negron Cruz not only saw the world but he also went above that by retiring after 44 years in the Army.

Negron Cruz started his career serving as a member of the Special Troops Forces in the Dominican Republic and later serving in a variety of logistical assignments stateside and in Germany until being appointed into the warrant officer course in 1978.

Throughout Negron Cruz's 44 years in the army, he has served in 10 overseas tours; including three combat tours in Vietnam and various tours in the Middle East.

Negron Cruz awards and decorations include Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal and service awards for combat, peace enforcement and humanitarian operations.