In front of a packed house of family and friends, Sgt. Maj. Torrance Braswell, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's (SDDC) Operations Sergeant Major, completed a 31-year career of service to the nation during a retirement ceremony in his honor at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, July 13.

Maj. Gen. Stephen E. Farmen, SDDC commanding general, officiated the ceremony.

"It's an honor to recognize this fine Soldier and leader," said Farmen. "Throughout his career, he has been at the center of the action in every assignment and has led from the front."

Recognizing the many achievements throughout Braswell's career, Farmen presented him with the Legion of Merit. The award citation noted Braswell's "outstanding performance, strategic vision and dedicated service to Soldiers, civilians and families."

Braswell, who has served in SDDC's operations directorate since 2015, grew up on military posts in Alaska and Tennessee as an Army "brat." His father James is a retired Army First Sergeant with an Infantry and Special Forces background, including multiple tours in Vietnam.

Entering the military in 1987 as a Cargo Specialist, Braswell's career as a Soldier got off to a quick start.

During his first assignment at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, he completed a combat parachute jump into Panama during Operation Just Cause, earning the gold star that adorns his parachutist wings.

He also deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and deployed to Haiti in support of Operation Uphold Democracy.

Throughout the remainder of his career, through many assignments of increasing responsibility and numerous combat tours, Braswell continued to rise through the enlisted ranks. In 2015, he graduated from the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy and was posted to SDDC.

"Sgt. Maj. Braswell was a mainstay of the operations team, ensuring the Operations "ship" was righted; keeping sails taut and our compass always pointing north" said Navy Capt. John Duenas, SDDC's Operations director and Braswell's boss. "His experience, expertise and professionalism will definitely be missed."

The impact Braswell had on SDDC was readily apparent by the emotions, reactions and the steadfast appreciation the attendees showed him.

Among those present were many of Braswell's family members and relatives. In addition to his wife Vanessa, sons Torrance and Adrian, and daughter Alexus, Braswell was also joined by his parents, James and Dorothy, as well as numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

Braswell's post-retirement plans include a return to the Ft. Bragg area where he intends to spend more time with his family and find a civilian position on the post that will make use of his skill set.

Braswell says that while he will miss wearing the uniform and taking care of Soldiers, he's certainly not yet done serving his country.