FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- In the year 1978, Jimmy Carter was President, the movie "Grease" and the comic strip, "Garfield" debuted, and William E. Gunter enlisted in the Army.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gunter, plans officer, G-5, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, at 62 years old, was the eldest member of USASOC serving on active duty.
Gunter enlisted in his junior year of college at the age of 24, when he says he just "got tired of it." He enlisted as a field artillery forward observer (13F) and served four years before leaving the military in 1982 to continue his studies and work as a writer for various government consulting firms in the District of Columbia area.
Gunter attended Special Forces Assessment and Selection in 1987, stating that at the time he needed something to "spice up his life." He joined the 20th Special Forces Group (National Guard) as an SF Engineer, and was subsequently mobilized for Desert Storm.
"I really didn't have any thought of coming back active (duty), until I got mobilized for Desert Storm in 1991," Gunter said. "When I got back, I went active and we moved to Fort Devens, where I joined a team."
According to Gunter, the decision to return to active duty changed his life. He knew there would be sacrifices paving the way for this decision, but he knew it's what he was meant to do.
"We were making pretty good money between my wife and I, and took about a 50,000 to 60,000 dollar (a year) pay cut to go active as a staff sergeant and live in (on-post) quarters. It was the best thing we ever did," Gunter said.
Upon returning to active duty, Gunter joined the 10th SFG, Fort. Devens, Massachusetts, and from 1991 to 1995 completed numerous deployments in support of UN peacekeeping operations in Bosnia.
Gunter then made the decision to become an SF warrant officer. In1995 he completed the Warrant Officer Basic Course. He was then assigned to 1st Battalion, 10th SFG (A), Stuttgart, Germany.
In his 38-year career, Gunter has been stationed at multiple locations throughout the Special Operations Forces spectrum including 75th Ranger Regiment, 20th SFG, 10th SFG, Special Warfare Training Center, and USASOC Headquarters.
"I've been in this headquarters (USASOC) twice. The first time I was here from 2010 to 2012 as the AFRICOM/EUCOM desk officer in the G-33," Gunter said. "Then I went to become Chief Warrant Officer for Special Operations Command Africa in 2012, and came back over here in June 2014, where I worked for Lt. Gen. Cleveland in the Command Initiatives Group (CIG)."
Of his long, storied career, Gunter states that his time with Special Forces Group ODAs' (Operational Detachment Alpha) are his most cherished memories.
"The best time of my life was when I was on a team, unfortunately I had to leave the team because I made CW3 in 2004," Gunter said. "If it was up to me, I'd still be on a team today."
In addition to his duty assignments, Gunter has conducted training missions and operations all over the world including; Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Uganda, Morocco, Mauritania and Algeria.
Besides his many military accomplishments, Gunter also holds a master's degree in European History, a bachelor's degree in Russian Studies, an associate's degree in liberal arts, and he is fluent in both German and Russian.
A retirement ceremony was held in the Heritage Auditorium at USASOC HQ, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Dec. 5, to honor the 38 years Gunter has dedicated to serving his country.