By Ruth Kingsland, Northwest GuardianJune 9, 2017
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Hundreds gathered in front of I Corps Headquarters on Lewis Main June 2 to honor Lt. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza as he officially retired from a military career spanning nearly four decades.
Lanza served most recently as the I Corps commanding general and senior mission commander at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Prior to that, he was commander of 7th Infantry Division. In April, leadership of I Corps was transferred to Lt. Gen. Gary J. Volesky, the current I Corps and JBLM commanding general.
"I personally saw Steve's courage and skill," said Gen. Mark A. Milley, Army chief of staff, in remarks at Lanza's retirement ceremony. "Steve Lanza has always been the right man and the right commander in the right place at the right time. Steve, you're one of our great generals of today."
During the ceremony, Lanza was presented with an American flag, a retirement certificate and a shell casing from the final cannon blast at the event.
Although much of the ceremony was devoted to honoring Lanza for his stalwart service and legendary leadership, recognition also was given to members of his family, including his wife of 21 years, Madeline; son, Raymond; dad and Korean War veteran, Ray; and mom, Marie. A handful of his classmates from the United States Military Academy at West Point's class of 1980 also attended the event.
After the event, Ray and Marie Lanza both expressed pride in their son's accomplishments.
"I'm so proud of him; he's a wonderful son," Marie said with tears in her eyes.
The event wasn't just filled with emotion and accolades. Humor was a key component throughout Milley's speech, as Milley, a Boston Red Sox fan, alternately ribbed his longtime friend for his choice in athletic teams and joked about Lanza's West Point education - Milley is a Princeton University graduate.
"Steve is a native New Yorker, a native of Brooklyn, but it gets worse than that," Milley said with a laugh. "He's a New York Yankees fan; they are morally corrupt, in your face...."
In addition to graduating from West Point, Lanza is also a graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College and the School for Advanced Military Studies. He earned a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University, as well as a Master of Science in National Security and Strategic Studies from the National War College - part of the National University of Defense in Washington, D.C. Lanza also served as a National Security Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
All jokes aside, Milley praised Madeline for her volunteerism and thanked each of the Lanza family members for their support in helping the retiring general accomplish so much in his 37 years. Milley also gave high praise to the service members under Lanza's command.
"Soldiers from I Corps are in 17 countries, here and abroad; that's amazing," he said. "I Corps is the most capable, highly-trained in the U.S. Army."
Milley said he credits the success of I Corps as a direct reflection of the last 3-and-a-half years of leadership. Lanza's service at JBLM, as well as in myriad positions and deployments, achieved a high level of excellence, Milley said.
"This country has benefited under almost four decades of the leadership and competence of General Lanza," he said.
During the event, Lanza took a few moments to thank Soldiers, friends and family, as well as the generations of leaders and mentors who have shaped and influenced him.
"Most importantly, I want to thank my beautiful wife and amazing son ... for your steadfast love and encouragement," he said. "Without your support, I could not have pursued my lifelong passion of being a leader and Soldier in the world's greatest Army. As a proud Soldier for life, let me wish you all Godspeed and Army Strong."