By Mrs. Cherish T Gilmore (AMC)April 10, 2015
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- One of the Army's highest ranking female officers said farewell in a formal ceremony Friday after nearly 35 years of military service.
Lt. Gen. Patricia McQuistion, Army Materiel Command deputy commanding general and Redstone Arsenal senior commander, formally retired surrounded by family, friends and colleagues at the Bob Jones Auditorium here, April 10. She is just one of five active duty Army three-star female generals.
She assumed the duties of AMC deputy commanding general in August of 2012.
Gen. Dennis L. Via, commander of AMC, hosted and set the tone for the ceremony referring to McQuistion as a "great Soldier, master logistician, accomplished general officer and outstanding American."
"Today, Lt. Gen. Patricia McQuistion completes her Army career where it all began right here in Huntsville, Alabama, where she started as a second lieutenant ordinance officer at the Redstone Arsenal Officer Basic Course," Via said.
Since then she has led Soldiers at every level from platoon to theater including several positions with the materiel enterprise such as Tobyhanna Army Depot, a crown jewel of the Organic Industrial Base, and the U.S. Army Sustainment Command.
"Many people told me that as a senior leader of our Army that I should hold my retirement ceremony at Fort Myer in the Washington D.C. area, and while I appreciate the sentiment, I never considered for a moment doing this ceremony anywhere but here in Huntsville at Redstone Arsenal," McQuistion said. "I love this community. I love this post, and for me it's a nice book-end to a wonderful career."
McQuistion, with a little mist in her eyes, began her remarks by thanking her Army spouse, retired Col. Leif Johnson.
"For 30 of my 34 years in the Army, he has stood by my side at every ceremony, cheering me on and listening as I thank every person in the audience, rolling his eyes just a little, as I completely forget to thank the most important person in my life, him. So better late than never sweetheart; I started with you today," she said.
Over the next few moments, she reflected on how her love for the Army began by playing Soldier with her six other siblings as children, to admiring her father, a World War II and Korean War veteran who served 26 years in the Army.
McQuistion also reflected on the many assignments and people that helped mold her into the leader she retired as today.
"The work has been important and the people phenomenal but what has made this assignment so very special is the people in this community," McQuistion said. "You embrace the arsenal and all of us. You not only show up in strength, you lead and participate in so many events; that shows your appreciation for America's military. You get that the defense of our nation is a shared responsibility."
She even shared a summary of her career using numbers.
"Thirty-four plus years of service, 23 different assignments, 26 different houses, 52 countries, 43 states, 12 major uniform changes, thousands of Soldiers and civilians, a world of opportunity, one spouse, three children, and one grandson… for now," she said.
McQuistion concluded by quoting Jacob Burkhart, "The true use of history is not to make us clever for next time, it is to make us wiser forever…I'd do it all again and I wouldn't change much and I hope I'm wiser for it."
As for the next step in life, McQuistion says retirement holds no fears because she has the very best example on how to live a meaningful and fulfilling life when she changes out of uniform -- her husband.