FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Hundreds of Fort Rucker Soldiers, civilian employees and Family members turned out to honor 10 retirees with more than 299 years of service between them during a retirement ceremony Jan. 21 at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.

Col. Yvette J. Kelley, garrison commander, spoke at the event, adding that doing so was a privilege as "these true American heroes start a new chapter in their lives."

The seven military and three civilian employee retirees stood before the crowd as Kelley proclaimed the Army lucky to have them in its ranks, and thanked them and their Families for their achievements and sacrifices.

"Living this Army life is rich and rewarding," Kelley said. "Each of you must know that you have left the Army a better place and your nation is grateful for your service."

Kelley then gave short comments about each retiree.

CW5 Howard H. Fancher

"He has 37 years of military service with 11,635 flight hours. He feels serving in combat is something you will never forget. His other memorable experience is being a member of the 1986 and 1989 World Champion Precision Helicopter Team. His advice is to keep your head in the game - you need situational awareness."

CW5 Charles W. McAllister

"He came in as an enlisted Soldier in 1974. His most memorable event was when he swore his son into the Army. His advice is to not worry about what happens to yourself - be more concerned about those who are about to follow and always try to make it better."

CW5 Douglas B. Brown

"He has had an illustrious career flying Cobras, Apaches, RC-12s, C-12s, de Havillands, Hueys and the TH-55. He feels his greatest achievement is staying married to the same woman for 26 years.
He says to always place the mission first, but you must find balance - your Family will be with you once you say goodbye to the Army."

CW5 Leonard J. Eichhorn

"He has served on active duty for over 28 years. After enlisting and assessing into Aviation, he initially flew Cobras and Apaches, and was selected for fixed-wing training just after Desert Storm. He reminds us it is not about the flying, it's about the mission and the guys on the ground."

CW4 Barry W. Elsholz

"One of his most memorable experiences was performing as the Chinook flight lead in the first air assault into Baghdad International April 11, 2003. His advice is to have a sense of duty and integrity, and also that you'll get out of your Army career exactly what you put into it."

CW3 Richard D. Alvord

"One of his most memorable experiences was being the team leader for the Color Guard when the Ronald Reagan Library was opened. His advice is to do what you know is right and always follow your heart."

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph D. Parker

"One of his most memorable experiences was while serving an 18-day assessment process for getting into a classified unit he learned a lot about himself and became a better NCO as a result. His advice is to not pass up any opportunities that the Army offers."

Nick Green

"He started working as a contractor in 1964. He's been around Aviation his whole life, starting in civil service in 1966. His advice is to look to the future. If you look at the present or past, you get lost and may lose your focus."

Margaret D. White

"She has served for more than 36 years - all at Fort Rucker. Her advice is to be true to your mission and all of the implications of your mission. Don't let your work ethic slip and be innovative."

Raymond D. Smith

"He has served for 37 years. His most memorable experience is working with young people - training them and having them come back years later. He feels that if you put your mind to it, you can be whatever you want to be."