By Alexia GardnerMay 17, 2018
For many military members, retirement is the next chapter in life. It's something they look forward to as the years go by, with the ability to spend more time with family and friends a major bonus. It is a well-deserved break from the workforce for service members after spending most of their adult life serving the country.
This time has now come for Sergeant Major Austin A. Mclaughlin. The Bowie, Texas native serving as the senior enlisted advisor of the 175th Financial Management Support Center on Fort Shafter Hawaii recently held a retirement ceremony aboard the U.S.S Missouri celebrating his 25-year U.S. Army career.
"I'm very proud of everything that he's accomplished," said his wife, Mrs. Brenda McLaughlin. "It will be nice for him to be laidback and chill; I'm ready for him to just be at home and relax a little bit."
McLaughlin is not the first in his family to serve his country. His father was also in the Army. In his retirement speech, he spoke of what an amazing man his father was and how he inspired him to serve his country with pride.
"I know my dad would be very proud of me," McLaughlin said. "He was over the moon when I got promoted to Master Sergeant and for him that was that 'wow you surpassed me' moment."
Sergeant Major is the highest enlisted rank U.S. Army Soldiers could obtain during their time in service. The rank comes with an extreme amount of responsibility associated with it, but McLaughlin was always able to remain calm in while keeping the mission in mind.
"I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the fact that I wouldn't have made it to 25 years in the Army and the rank as Sergeant Major if it was not for the fantastic luck and blessings of being surrounded by exceptional Soldiers," he said.
McLaughlin has said time and time again that good people trump good leadership. His personal leadership style is one that made his Soldiers like him as a person while admiring him as a leader.
"Ethical leaders can mold culture by their words and more importantly by their actions because they are always being watched," said Master Sgt. Andrea Rueda, the financial operations advisor with the 175th FMSC. "As the highest ranking senior enlisted soldier in our organization, Sergeant Major McLaughlin embodied what I believe is an ethical leader."
The 175th FMSC at Fort Shafter, Hawaii is McLaughlin's last duty assignment. He said has had a fantastic time under the leadership of Col. Nicholas LaSala, the 175th' FMSC director, and with Soldiers and officers that have served with him. He feels as if this assignment was where he made the most impact.
"Ladies and gentlemen, before you sits a great American patriot who has dedicated a quarter of a century to the defense of this country," LaSala said at McLaughlin's retirement ceremony. "A Soldier, leader, committed father and husband who is an example of what greatness looks like."
Although he has enjoyed serving his country, McLaughlin knows that it's time to hang up his uniform. He said he's learned more about himself through his service and believes that he has become a better person because of it. As he often says, "it broke me out of my shell." And that's what he wants for the future of the U.S. Army, so that great leaders can relax knowing they left it in good hands.
"I love the Army and I love the military," McLaughlin said. "It's taken to me to a great place as a person more than anything, and its challenged my weaknesses."