FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Jan. 26, 2012) -- A standing-room-only crowd turned out to honor the post's latest eight retirees during a ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum Jan. 20.

Col. James A. Muskopf, Fort Rucker garrison commander, hosted the ceremony to thank the three military, five civilians and their Families for their service and sacrifice to the country.

"The retirees we're honoring today represent the very best of Army Aviation and our Army. I know all of you share the pride these Soldiers and civilians have knowing they served in distinction and with honor," the colonel said. "We take time today to thank them for their service as they move forward to begin the next chapter of their lives. While we look back on their careers and think about how lucky our Army has been, I'm sure they would all tell us it has gone by all too fast and they would do it all over again."

Muskopf added that while the ceremony served as public recognition for the great contributions and sacrifices each retiree had made, it also honored their Families.

"We must also recognize the sacrifices that your Families have made each and every day so that you could go out and do your job knowing they were there for you, waiting, sometimes worrying, but also knowing they were a soft place to land when you came home. I'd like to say a special thank you to our Army Families here today celebrating this important occasion.

"Living this Army life is richly rewarding," he said. "As you retire, please think back on your careers and remember the wonderful people you've met, the memories you've made, and most importantly, the incredible legacy you leave behind as you leave this stage today. Each of you must know that you left your Army a better place and your nation is grateful for your service."

Career highlights for each retiree were then read.

CW5 Patrick D. Lott

Lott, chief of logistics and information management for the Warrant Officer Career College, entered military service in December 1976. During his 35 years of military service, he served in numerous locations, including three tours in Germany, two tours in Korea, Alaska, Kuwait and numerous deployments to Southwest Asia.

Lott said the highlight of his Army career was the opportunity to serve his country and meeting his wife, Lynn. He and his wife have two children, and they plan to reside in the local area.

CW4 David M. McGonegal

McGonegal, quality assurance and evaluations platoon leader and standardization instructor pilot with the 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment, entered military service in April 1988. During his 23 years of military service, he served in numerous locations, including Korea, Hawaii, Egypt, Fort Campbell, Ky., and a combat tour in Iraq. He has flown 731 combat hours and is a standardization instructor pilot in the CH-47D, OH-58 A/C and TH-67 aircraft.

He said the highlight of his career was serving his country in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, training and executing missions with the nation's best and meeting his "beautiful, loving and supportive wife," Shannon. The couple have four children and upon retirement plan to reside in Dothan.

First Sgt. Ronnie Ganzy

Ganzy, 4th Brigade S6 NCO in charge at Fort Riley, Kan., entered military service in November 1978. He served in numerous locations, including Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; Kansas City, Kan.; Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Germany; and Panama.

He said the highlight of his career was going through basic training, because that was when he knew he was a Soldier and that it was the life for him. He is married to Sonia Ann, and they have six children and 10 grandchildren. They plan to reside in Milton, Fla.

Richard L. Campbell

Campbell, Directorate of Simulation Aviation training exercise training specialist, entered military service in October 1961. During his 48 years of military and civilian service, he served as an enlisted Nike Hercules crewman, medic, flight operations Soldier, air traffic controller, infantry officer and Army Aviator. He served two tours in Vietnam and flew more than 1,200 combat flight hours.

He stated the highlight of his military career was fighting alongside then-Lt. Col. John Vessey, who later became the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the Battle of Soui Tre. During his civilian career, he executed 85 Aviation training exercises for Combat Aviation Brigades deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.

He and his wife, Cheryl, have four children and three grandchildren. They plan to reside in Enterprise.

Paula E. Jackson

Jackson, a research assistant with the U.S. Army Aviation Museum and U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence G3, is a Vietnam veteran who served in the Army for two years. She entered civil service in 1966 and served in numerous positions, including working for the adjutant general, Lyster Army Hospital, the installation security and plans office, Directorate of Plans and Training and G3.

She said the highlight of her career was meeting and working with outstanding civilians and Soldiers and forming lifelong friendships with many of them. She has two children and four grandchildren and plans to reside in Ozark.

Beth Hall

Hall, directorate secretary for the USAACE G3/5/7, entered civil service in September 1975. During her career, she served in numerous positions, including transportation freight rate assistant, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment secretary and secretary for the Directorate of Evaluation and Standardization.

She said the highlight of her career was working with some of the best Soldiers and civilians from all over the United States and administratively supporting the training of young Soldiers for Army Aviation and the U.S. Army.

Her husband is Lamar, and they have two children and two grandchildren. They plan to reside in Ozark.

Thomas E. Foster

Foster, logistics management specialist with the Training and Doctrine Command Program Office-Aviation Brigades, served four years in the Navy where he worked as an Aviation fire support specialist spending most of his time aboard ship. He entered civil service in September 1984 and has served as a test officer for the Aviation Board at Cairns Army Airfield, and several positions for the Directorate of Combat Development, now called the TRADOC Program Office-Aviation Brigades.

He said the highlight of his career was meeting and marrying his "wonderful" wife, Kathryn. The couple has two children and four grandchildren and plan to reside in Headland.

Shelia Hagler

Hagler, USAACE protocol specialist, entered civil service in September 1984. During her first 17 years, she worked in the Department of Public Works in the engineer resource management division, the operations and maintenance division, roads and grounds section and the natural resources division. She spent the last 10 years in protocol -- six as a lodging specialist, and the last four performing the commanding general's events and ceremonies.

She said the highlight of her career was getting to meet and work with all the general officers, the rest of Fort Rucker leadership and working closely with local communities.

Hagler has a daughter and plans to reside in Enterprise.