FORT LEE, Va. (Dec. 17, 2009) -- Fort Lee recently awarded several retention noncommissioned officers, career counselors and units for being the best in their field.

While reaching retention goals is a celebrated achievement, on the other side of the contract is the Soldier who makes that decision and commits himself or herself to continue serving in the Army.

Master Sgt. Cassey Daugherty, a petroleum operations NCO with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company 530th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 49th Quartermaster Group, is one of those committed to serve.

When Daugherty joined a group of 23 Soldiers on Nov. 24 during a reenlistment ceremony at the Army Logistics University he wasn't dwelling on the fact that his military career already spanned more than 20 years.

No attention was paid to the fact that he was signing up for another 18 years either. His indefinite reenlistment contract is the second longest in Army history at 216 months (the longest being 224), and is the longest signed at Fort Lee.

Accompanied by his wife Annmarie, Daugherty stood tall, raised his right hand and took the oath as he had done first as a young Marine, then in the active-duty Army, and again as an Army Reservist.

"I'm grateful for all the Army has done for me and my Family," said Daugherty. "I feel that I'm a stronger person - physically and mentally - because of the Army. Sometimes it's been hard to keep things balanced, but my commitment has never wavered."

Sgt. Maj. David Reynolds called it a 'Hooah' day for the Quartermaster Corps. Reynolds, the Combined Arms Support Command and Sustainment Center of Excellence command career counselor remembers sorting through Daugherty's paperwork last Thanksgiving, trying to compile all the active service dates together.

"I've been planning this reenlistment ever since he entered the regular Army last year," said Reynolds. "His case is unique because he enlisted as a master sergeant after more than 20 years of military service. And also because of the current reenlistment policy, he can only reenlist under the indefinite program."

The indefinite reenlistment program was implemented in October of 1998 as an Army initiative to support retention of career NCOs. The program is mandatory for all Soldiers in the rank of staff sergeant to command sergeant major who are eligible for reenlistment and have at least 10 or more years of active federal service on the date of reenlistment.

Changes to the retention control points defined 29 years as the maximum amount of time a master sergeant can serve in the Army; therefore Daugherty has about nine years remaining before he considers retirement. He said that decision will be, as all others before it, a Family decision.

"My original plan was just to finish up my 20 years, but signing an 18-year contract makes you think things through a little more," said Daugherty. "It all depends on what my wife and I decide on, and if I think my body can still take it. You know, a body doesn't perform the same as it did when enlisting at age 18."

It was in February of 1988 when the 18-year old Daugherty enlisted in the Marine Corps and was stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., as a cannon crewmember. In 1990 he deployed in support of the Persian Gulf War and traveled to more than 15 countries during his five-year stint in the Marines.

Not long after that, he returned to active duty status - this time with the U.S. Army. With Family in tow, he moved to his new duty station in Baumholder, Germany. Daugherty deployed to Bosnia in support of Operation Joint Endeavor with the 1st Armored Division.

His last deployment occurred when he transferred to the Army Reserves, serving a year overseas with the 316th QM Co., out of Camp Pendleton, Ca., in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

Daugherty found success in both his reserve and civil service career, rising in the ranks from specialist to first sergeant in one, and Wage Grade 3 to WG9 in the latter as a maintenance mechanic.

"I was very fortunate to have advanced quickly through the ranks," said Daugherty. "I would say the highlight for me was becoming the first sergeant for the same unit I began with as an E-4. That was quite an accomplishment for me."

Nearly 15 years after he first enlisted in the Army, Daugherty returned to active duty status last November and was stationed at Fort Lee.

"I think the military has always been our security blanket," said Daugherty. "It's been a long journey, but I'm glad to be here."

When the Family moved from California to Virginia, their eldest son Jonathan, decided to stay on the west coast to pursue a career as an inker in the comic book industry.

"It was hard for us to leave California without him, but it's his dream job," said Annmarie. "But he visits, and we've had time to visit him. He's really good at what he does and we're proud of him."
Their youngest followed in his father's path and is currently serving in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division. There was both pride and surprise when the decision to enlist was announced.
"We didn't know Tony wanted to join the Army," said Annmarie. "He never mentioned it, but he must have been taking in a lot more than we thought. I think he saw how well it worked out for his dad."

Daugherty knew his son wanted a challenge, and now he's living up to it.

"The MOS he picked - 13F (fire support specialist) - I thought it was a little further out than what I would have wanted him to pick, but he's happy with his choice and is doing great," said Daugherty. "He's about ready to pick up his sergeant rank and I'm very proud of him and what he's accomplished."

As for Daugherty, with his last reenlistment ceremony behind him, he continues to share his knowledge and life experience as a leader of Soldiers.

"I try to exercise patience when dealing with all Soldiers and officers, but especially junior enlisted," said Daugherty. "I make my expectations clear and always use positive reinforcement. It is imperative to follow through and make Soldiers accountable. I would never have a Soldier do anything I haven't or wouldn't do myself."