FORT KNOX, Kentucky (Oct. 29, 2014) -- A former senior enlisted adviser of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, Kentucky, retired after 32 years of service in a ceremony, here, Oct. 24.

Command Sgt. Maj. Roger Howard, who recently served as USACC's eighth command sergeant major, was surrounded by family and friends as two of his former commanders lauded the career of an individual who had grown up in Goodman, Mississippi; population: 1,136.

"Thirty-two years ago, I was all set and ready to go to college," Howard told the audience. "I had the acceptance letter in my hand, and turned to my mom and I said, 'Okay, I'm going to head off to college and I need a car." His mom answered that she couldn't afford that.

Since he couldn't dare be seen on campus without a car, he knew he'd have to buy his own.

So, he joined the Army. "I was just going to stay in for three years," just long enough to save some money.

Instead, that three years turned into three decades that included assignments with the XVIII Airborne Corps and the 82nd Abn. Division. Those years included deployments during operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. He also served as a drill instructor at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

He thanked "all the good people that had taken Private Howard under their wings" during his service.

"(They were) people like Staff Sgt. Robert Turner, my very first section chief who taught me to be the best artilleryman that I could be. Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Ash taught me to how to go above and beyond and not be just an average Soldier, but a superb Soldier."

He offered his appreciation for serving under commanders who respected NCOs."They always trusted us to get the job done," he said.

One of those former commanders, Brig. Gen. Peggy Combs, commander, USACC and Fort Knox, thanked Howard for his service to USACC, including time he spent visiting junior and senior Cadets at ROTC programs nationwide.

"Command Sergeant Major, if there is a theory that goes along with the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, I can tell you that there is a theory of six degrees of Roger Howard throughout our Army. Your influence will continue for the next thirty plus years. You have put so much of your heart and soul into the development of our future leaders in our Army."

Combs thanked Howard's wife, Velma, for "selflessly dedicating" her spare time to the Fort Knox community. "Thank you for being a great mom, and a great teammate to your Soldier for thirty-two years."

Retired Brig. Gen. Martin Schweitzer, Howard's former deputy commander from the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, added that while sometimes dedicated spouses don't get the thanks they deserved, the nation is still grateful for their service.

Schweitzer said that military life is difficult for military kids such as the Howards' daughter, Archella, and son, Roger. Army life means having to grow up sooner than their peers by moving multiple times and attending multiple schools. As a father, Schweitzer said he understands the sacrifices they make by having to grow up in a one-parent household when the other parent is deployed.

He then asked the audience to give Archella and Roger a round of applause for their sacrifices for growing up in a family where their dad was away much of the time, with multiple combat tours since 1990.

"We, and the nation, thank you," he said.