FORT SILL, Oklahoma (April 1, 2021) -- Nineteen Soldiers and their families were honored for their service to the nation during Fort Sill’s bimonthly retirement ceremony March 26, at the Cache Creek Chapel Complex. Overflow distanced seating allowed for hundreds of fellow Soldiers, co-workers, family, and friends to attend.
In his invocation, Chaplain (Maj.) Felix Kumai, 428th Field Artillery Brigade chaplain, said: “God our father, we thank you for … all the happy memories to enjoy, for the wisdom that comes through experience, and for the freedom that is given with retirement.”
Guest speaker, Col. Jennifer Schulke, Army Capabilities Manager Air Defense Artillery Brigades, said she felt privileged to recognize the retirees who have served with honor and sacrifice.
She noted that the Soldiers’ cumulative service equaled almost 460 years.
“The willingness to endure hardship, to risk life and limb, and when needed make the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our nation is the reason that members of the military enjoy the respect and gratitude of our country,” she said. “They have faithfully fulfilled a higher purpose that put nation above themselves.”
The Army is first and foremost about people, Schulke said, and it is the Soldier who is the Army’s most valuable weapon.
“It is the young men and women who went through basic training on this side of I-44 and other basic training sites throughout our country, that made the difference in numerous battles, operations, and campaigns around the globe to secure our nation, our way of life, and those of our allies.”
Closing, Schulke told the retirees: “Your reward will be the satisfaction knowing that character, competence, and leadership made a difference not only in your own lives, but also to the lives of the Soldiers and civilians you led and mentored along the way and the lives of your fellow citizens. Thank you to you and your families.”
During the ceremony, all the retirees were presented Meritorious Service Medals, commanding general’s coins of excellence, retirement certificates signed by the Army chief of staff, and cased U.S. flags, which were courtesy of the Fort Sill Retiree Council.
Each spouse was given a certificate of appreciation and a small token of gratitude, said Kenneth Emerson, the program’s narrator, “in honor of their faithful, unselfish, and devoted service.”
All the children of the retirees received Army B.R.A.T. (Bravery, Resilience, Adaptability, and Tolerance) certificates, which were presented by Command Sgt. Maj. Gerardo Ramon, Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate.
As Emerson introduced each retiree, he also told of the retiree’s transition plan, such as to teach, to continue work in ministry, to work in the wind turbine industry, to continue to train Soldiers.
Lt. Col. James Miller, Army Air and Missile Defense Command, joined Army June 1995.
Maj. Carlos Arriaza, Ordnance Training Detachment, joined March 1996.
Chaplain (Maj.) Timothy Gresham, Fort Sill Garrison, joined June 1986.
Maj. Michael Lovett, 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery, joined June 2000.
Chaplain (Maj.) Sean Moore, 47th Combat Support Hospital, joined April 1987.
Command Sgt. Maj. Aaron Drake, 3rd Battalion, 6th Air Defense Artillery, joined February 1999.
Sgt. Maj. Robert Kincheloe, Fires Center of Excellence, G3/5/7, joined June 1991.
1st Sgt. Richard McCormick, 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery, joined July 1998.
Sgt. 1st Class Reginald Baker, 15th Transportation Company, joined June 1997.
Sgt. 1st Class Joshawa Boren, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery, joined July 2000.
Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Daniels, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery, joined May 2001.
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Gause, 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery, joined May 2001.
Sgt. 1st Class Panya Laona, FCoE, joined February 2001.
Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy McLain, 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, joined July 1998.
Sgt. 1st Class Mario Rivera-Ayestas, FCoE, joined June 2001.
Sgt. 1st Class Hugo Rodriguez, 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery, joined March 2001.
Sgt. 1st Class José Sotovelez, 428th Field Artillery Brigade, joined March 2001.
Staff Sgt. Chad Kair, 434th FA Brigade, joined February 1998.
Staff Sgt. Samuel Leday Jr., 434th FA Brigade, joined July 2001.