REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Not many can say they've spent their entire career fulfilling their life's passion, but that is the story for one engineering leader of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Aviation and Missile center.

Dr. William "Bill" Craig, director of the Software Engineering Directorate, retired after 58 years of civilian service on Redstone Arsenal June 25. He became the SED director in 1988, serving a total of 30 years.

SED, now under the center's Systems Simulation, Software and Integration Directorate, provides software and systems engineering support for a majority of the Army's major weapon and aviation systems. SED is one of only three Life Cycle Software Engineering Centers in the Army.

Director, Dr. Juanita Harris served as the speaker during the ceremony. She spoke of Craig's commitment to the Army and his support to the organization's success throughout his career.

"What Dr. Craig has done has been a tremendous effort to the center (AMRDEC)," said Harris. "He not only led over 58 years, but even today with recent initiatives and recent activities, he is still a strong leader within the community and the center (AMRDEC)."

A native of Senatobia, Mississippi, Craig received a Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Mississippi State University. He began his government career in 1960 at Dr. Werhner von Braun's Astrionics Laboratory. He moved to the Army Ballistic Missile Defense Agency in 1970 and later became a charter member to the Army Missile Command's Missile System Software Center when it was established in 1976.

In 1984, it became the Battlefield Automation Management Directorate and was renamed SED in 1989, one year after Craig assumed the director responsibilities.

"When SED building was built on the Arsenal, we used less than 100,000 lines of computer code for the Pershing II missile," Craig said. "Now we use more than 10 million lines of tactical and support code for our systems."

The organization uses this code to establish the software sustainment environment that includes project specific hardware; software and documentation; and performs analysis, sustainment, configuration management, quality assurance, testing and fielding.

Under Craig's leadership, SED has been involved in the development and fielding of numerous Army systems including the Joint Battle Command-Platform and the Aviation Mission Planning System, as well as training simulators for the Javelin, Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station and the TOW missile.

The organization is also responsible for development and deployment of the America's Army software program that includes a public game, weapon systems trainers, and Army recruiting applications.

"Our number one priority has been building products that Soldiers can use and that they want to use," said Craig. "We've designed them to withstand the environment, and to be affordable and maintainable. We've built our reputation on that."

When Craig spoke during the ceremony, he told stories throughout his career. Stories that had impacted his vision and motivated his work.

"I have been totally happy with my career and appreciated the opportunities I've had to work here," Craig said. "The Soldier has always been my number one priority and has continued to put my work into perspective. If I had to give advice to someone starting out in their career, I would encourage three things in this order: always practice honesty, have a good attitude and excel at your technical capabilities."

Craig has received many honors and citations throughout the past 58 years. These include recognition as Supervisor of the Year in 1985 by the North Alabama Chapter of Federally Employed Women; the first recipient of the Joseph C. Moquin Award given by the Huntsville Association of Technology Societies; the Medaris Award from the Tennessee Valley National Defense Industrial Association; an honorary Doctorate degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville; induction into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame, the Order of Saint Barbara and the Ancient Order of Saint Barbara; an honorary military society of the United States Field Artillery; and the Government & Industry Leadership Award from the Alabama A&M University Huntsville Progressive Alumni Chapter.

"He is sought out amongst the community, he is sought out amongst the services and he is sought out amongst the Army for the expertise he brings to the table," said Harris. "Today, I honor you, I look up to you, and I pray for your continued success. Please don't forget about us here because we could never forget about you."

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The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.