ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - The U.S. Army Sustainment Command hosted a retirement ceremony in honor of Col. Lance Koenig, former chief of staff, ASC, celebrating his 34 years of military service in Heritage Hall, here, March 28.

Koenig enlisted in the Kentucky National Guard in 1983. After graduating from Western Kentucky University, he reported for active duty in Ludwigsburg, Germany, in 1987. Since then, Koenig has participated in three combat tours, three humanitarian service operations and a peacekeeping mission, totaling 19 years overseas.

Koenig will officially retire from the Army on June 30 this year.

"Serving the nation is a calling. It has been a privilege," Koenig said. "It has taken sacrifices, but it has been a great way of life for me and my family."

Maj. Gen. Edward Daly, senior commander at Rock Island Arsenal and commanding general, ASC, presided over the ceremony. More than 200 people attended, including family, friends, federal employees and Soldiers.

Daly praised Koenig's "selfless service" and leadership in the Army. He said Koenig is a man of integrity and optimism.

"He is always candid and honest, never wavering in his dedication to the profession, and has a reputation as a mentor by the way he trains, coaches and leads those who will follow in his footsteps," Daly said. "Lance has given 110 percent to the Army family."

Daly read messages from Koenig's mentors during the ceremony.

Lt. Gen. Robert Dail, who retired after 33 years, wrote: "Across all levels of war, from tactical to strategic, and operating in airborne, heavy, and joint combined environments, Lance was masterful. As I reflect upon my many years as a general officer, I consider Lance to be one of the top ten Colonels with whom I served. I cannot say enough good things about Lance Koenig, an officer who made everyone around him, especially his superiors, look brilliant."

Daly presented a special letter from Jerry Jones, owner and president of the Dallas Cowboys Organization thanking Koenig for his service.

"As we tell our players, victories begins with character and commitment, qualities you have epitomized through faithful service to this country," the letter said. "Sending this message is especially gratifying as we have been informed that you are a loyal Dallas Cowboys fan. We can't tell you how much that means to us and how much your support means to our team."

Daly also presented the Legion of Merit to Koenig for his service in the Army. The Legion of Merit is awarded for meritorious service and achievement. It is the sixth highest U.S. military award a Soldier can receive.

Koenig thanked everyone for attending and supporting him throughout his career. He noted that he would not be here without the backing of his wife, Kimberlie; daughter, Rachel; and son, Lance Jr.

"When my job needed you to be a leader in the community, you were always there," Koenig said to his wife. "You made every community we lived in better because you were an active and positive part of it. They don't make Army wives better than you."

Koenig's father, mother, mother-in-law, uncles, sister and cousins traveled from around the nation to attend the ceremony. His neighbors and high school and college friends also came to show support.

Koenig started his military career in the 207th Military Intelligence Brigade as a maintenance platoon leader for the 511th Military Intelligence Battalion for 30 months. He has deployed to support Operation Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and Iraqi Freedom in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. He also served assignments with the 82nd Airborne Division, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, 1st Armored Division, Special Operations Command Europe, Defense Distribution Depot Europe, 10th Support Group, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, and ASC focusing on logistics.

Daly commended Koenig for commanding at the company, battalion and brigade level.

"Less than three percent of our Army officers get to do that, but that is a demonstration of how good you are and the legacy you are going to leave," Daly said.

In addition, Koenig served three humanitarian service operations -- Hurricane Andrew, Liberia Noncombatant Evacuation Operations, and Great East Japan Earthquake -- and in the Kosovo Force peacekeeping mission. He spent 14 years in Germany, two in Japan, and three in Hawaii.

"The Army has given us so much," Koenig said. "We will cherish the memories, and we are going to hold onto the friendships as we move on."