FORT HOOD, Texas -- III Corps and Fort Hood honored 14 Soldiers during a retiree celebration ceremony, Aug 28, here at the Phantom Warrior Center.
"I've been looking forward to this," said 1st Sgt. Brandon N. Heath, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, and a native of Goldsboro, North Carolina. "I'm ready to begin another chapter in my life, moving on and taking the experiences I learned in the Army and using them towards a new career."
Heath, alongside his family, and the other retirees and their families, gathered to receive their honors and awards for their years of selfless-service.
Though the focus was primarily on the day's ceremony, Staff Sgt. Tracie L. Dailey, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, First Army Division West, a native of Hampton, Virginia, shared her thoughts on a breakfast hosted the previous morning by Division West Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt.
"It was interesting and very nice and personable," said Dailey. "Maj. Gen. Colt was very relaxed and was just one of the Soldiers."
Staff Sgt. Omar A. Lopez-Martinez, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, a Silver Springs, Maryland, native, also told his experience at the retiree breakfast.
"It was a good moment to talk, interact and share stories about how our transition is going and thoughts on the future," said Lopez-Martinez.
Colt, the ceremony's host and ranking officer, conveyed his most sincere congratulations and hopes to the retiring Soldiers.
"It's a tremendous honor to officiate over retirement ceremonies," said Colt. "Ceremonies like this and events like the breakfast lends a lot of context to the timing of their decision to make a transition and to their service life."
As the ceremony proceeded, each Soldier and their guest received their retirement awards, flags and accolades, with their families present for photos and admiration.
John Banks, father of Staff Sgt. Dailey, and a retired U.S. Air Force senior noncommissioned officer, spoke about his daughter's retirement.
"I'm extremely proud of my daughter and her accomplishments. I'm glad she picked up where I left off by proudly serving our country," said Banks.
As the ceremony came to a close, some of the honored retirees gave words of advice for future retiring Soldiers and their plans for the future.
"Start preparing for retirement early," said Dailey, who plans to complete her Masters Degrees in Psychology and Human Resource Management.
"Be prepared," said Heath. "There are a lot of opportunities out there, and the Army is doing a better job of having programs out there for Soldiers to help the transition be a little smoother.
"Take advantage of those programs that are out there," he added.
In a final congratulations to the retirees and their families, Colt said, "To put in context again, the selfless service and sacrifices the servicemembers and their families have made, is one of our highest honors," said Colt.