FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Numerous family members, friends and colleagues gathered during a ceremony to celebrate the retirement of the U.S. Army South command sergeant major at the Fort Sam Houston Club Nov. 5th.

Command Sgt. Maj. Armando Ramirez took the stage with his wife Cindy to celebrate and formally end his nearly 32-year Army career. His journey with the Army took him throughout the world and culminated with his assignment at U.S. Army South, less than 30 miles from his native town of Marion, Texas.

"It truly has been an awesome ride for the last 31 1/2 years," said Ramirez. "I will never forget where I came from or how I got where I am today."

Maj. Gen. (Promotable) Keith M. Huber, commanding general, U.S. Army South, said Ramirez's contributions throughout his career are reflected by more than the decorations on his uniform.

"What really marks the profession of being in the military is in the eyes of all of you," Huber said to Ramirez's family, friends and colleagues. "As our command sergeant major, as a son, husband, father, and grandfather, he has positively changed generations of people both in and out of uniform."

During the ceremony, Huber presented Ramirez with the Distinguished Service Medal, a Certificate of Retirement, a Certificate of Appreciation signed by President Barack Obama, and a United States flag as a symbol of his faithful service to a grateful nation.

His wife Cindy received a Commander's Award for Public Service and a Certificate of Appreciation signed by the U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey.

Ramirez thanked his fellow Soldiers and colleagues for their support throughout his career. He specifically thanked Huber "for your trust and confidence and giving me this opportunity to serve as the command sergeant major for U.S. Army South in such an awesome capacity."

He conveyed a deep appreciation for his family; especially his wife Cindy.

"Thank you for following me all over the world," said Ramirez to his wife. "Thank you for being my best friend for over 35 years."

Ramirez entered the U.S. Army in June 1978 and attended Basic Combat Training and Advance Individual Training at Fort Sill, Okla. Upon his graduation he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery, 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C. as a Cannon Crewmember.

He has served in a variety of positions to include Gunner, Section Chief, Squad Leader, Gunnery Sergeant, Platoon Sergeant, Battalion Fire Support Sergeant, First Sergeant, Battalion Command Sergeant Major, Brigade Command Sergeant major, the United States Army Field Artillery School Command Sergeant Major, and culminating with his current assignment as the 8th Command Sergeant Major of U.S. Army South.

Ramirez was deployed to Iraq in 2003 as the 17th Field Artillery Brigade Command Sergeant Major for 12 months.

His awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal with five oak leaf clusters, Combat Action Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Drill Sergeant Identification Badge, Drivers Badge, Master Parachute Badge, Air Assault Badge and the Mechanic Badge.

Ramirez is married to the former Cindy Anderson and has two children, Julie and Brandon, and three grandchildren, Jacob, Clara and Madeline. He will retire to his hometown of Marion, Texas.