JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- After 35 years of military service, Maj. Gen. William K. Fuller, former deputy commanding general of I Corps, retired from the U.S. Army during a ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Nov. 18. I Corps Soldiers, families and friends gathered to bid farewell to Fuller and his family as they embark on a new life outside of the military.

"He has dedicated more than half of his life to serve our nation," said Lt. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, I Corps commanding general. "But I can confidently say that he is a humble leader whose legacy is defined by the significant impacts he has made here at I Corps, throughout the Army and around the world through three decades of conflict."

Fuller briefly spoke about how his parents and grandparents helped him begin his military career.

"They raised my brother and I in a traditional American home where Christian values, service to others and honor was a part of our daily life," Fuller said. "That foundation gave me a great head start."

Fuller arrived at Fort Lewis on orders to the 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment 33 years ago.

"When I started in the Army I had no idea I would end up here," Fuller said. "There's no doubt I owe my success to my early roots in the rangers. Their culture got into my blood very early and it was that culture inherited in the rangers, more than anything made me into the Soldier and leader that I became."

According to Lanza, when Fuller arrived at Fort Lewis, he was contemplating whether he wanted to stay in the Army. However, after his first 18 hours with the rangers, including an airborne operation, he decided the Army was the place for him to be, setting the tone for a lifetime of service.

"Since then, Maj. Gen. Fuller has served with mechanized forces, light airborne forces, his beloved ranger regiment and Special Operations Force in the Joint Special Operations Command," Lanza said. "Kurt has served with us in the last year, where he started with the rangers. Here at I Corps, he leveraged his combined 35 years of service to ensure our Soldiers both here and in the Pacific were ready to meet the challenges of an uncertain future," he added.

Lanza emphasized what Fuller had accomplished within I Corps.

"His experience in the Pacific has been invaluable, as we have planned operations exercises throughout the area of operations. More importantly Kurt understood the operational environment. He understood how to lead change. He understood how to set the example that will fill capability gaps. More importantly he understood how to build a better team and leave a legacy of professionalism behind him."

Fuller faced and overcame challenges throughout his military life.

"The Lord protected me and sustained me through almost six years in combat," Fuller said. "Three helicopter crashes, two combat jumps and a couple of dozen firefights that weren't just small arms, but they were also mortars, rockets, grenades and machine guns too. It has been an epic adventure and a wild and dangerous ride, but I wouldn't change much of it even if I could."

Although retiring from the Army was hard for Fuller, he knew it was time and was the right decision.

"A great leader once said that when your career is over the only things you have left to you are your family and reputation," Fuller said. "I'm very thankful that I can stand here today with both of those intact. There are also years of memories and experiences that I will cherish more than any rank or position that I ever held. There are memories of the best people I've ever known who did the impossible and overcame the worst. Knowing and serving with those people, with you, is a great gift that I walk away with today, and that I will always cherish."

Fuller left the military, but his effect on the Army and the I Corps mission will continue.

"You'll always be remembered for the example you set for our Army, our families and our Soldiers," Lanza said. "Kurt, your leadership will be missed, but your legacy will continue through our Soldiers. Your vision, global experience has enabled this Corps to be globally engaged, regionally aligned but more importantly ready."