FORT BRAGG, N.C. (July 30, 2012) -- With combined service totaling 86 years, there is not much in the Army that surprises Norman "Norm" and Linda Bruneau these days.

Family and friends gathered to honor the couple in a dual U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) and U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) retirement ceremony today. The event was co-hosted by FORSCOM's deputy chief of staff for Logistics, Maj. Gen. John R. O'Connor, and the USARC deputy chief of staff for Plans, Operations and Training, Brig. Gen. Scott F. Donahue.

"What a great privilege it is to congratulate a great gentleman and great lady for their selfless service, professional example and significant contributions to our military," O'Connor said.

"We absolutely depend on the willingness of our finest men and women to step forward and dedicate themselves to a greater cause; that of protecting our democracy. And it is truly a rare occasion to honor a couple that has dedicated so much in combined service, now culminating as they retire and begin the next chapter of their amazing life," O'Connor added.

Retiring with 46 years of combined military and civilian federal service and a final assignment as the chief of the FORSCOM Logistics' Plans, Operations and Concepts Division, Norm Bruneau may cause one to pause when his military and civilian careers are taken into account.

As a career logistician he's had the rare opportunity to train Soldiers in skills such as: static-line and military freefall parachute jumping, Jumpmaster, Pathfinder, Air Movement and Air-Ground Operations.

"I'm surprised that it's all gone by so fast," he said. "I think the key to my 'longevity' has been that I really enjoy what I do and have been fortunate to be surrounded by good people."

Linda Bruneau agrees and said, "Being committed to the Army and enjoying what you do is important. Times goes by quickly when you seek out and accept new challenges."

After 40 years of civilian federal service, she is retiring as the deputy director of the USARC Force Management Directorate. Starting her government career right after high school, as a clerk-typist at Fort McNair, Va., she saw her career progress from secretary to senior force structure analyst in quick succession after graduating from the Headquarters, Department of the Army Manpower and Force Management Career Intern Program.

She has also served as deputy for Joint Manpower at Headquarters, U.S. Army European Command. Her career has involved moves to Korea; Germany; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Fort McPherson, Ga.; and Fort Bragg.

"When I look back over the last 40 years, the changes are truly inspiring," she observed. "Norm and I have seen conflicts come and go, the draft turn in to an all-volunteer Army, the Berlin Wall come down and the Cold War end, not to mention the changes that came with 9/11.

"I've seen so many changes for women in the military since I started," she said. "My hat is off to those Soldiers raising Families while serving their country. Women in the Army and civilian service have come a long way."

Bruneau says a lack of female mentors was a challenge for her. In fact, she didn't have one until 1986. "Now, I'm so pleased with all of the great women who are there for others to have as leaders and role models."

Goals, challenges and a similar work ethic of "doing what's best for the Army and the organization" is what has guided the couple since they met as students at the Army Management Staff College in 1996.

Married in Heidelberg, Germany, in July 1999, the Bruneaus have been a combined force at FORSCOM and USARC since 2002. Their latest challenge was the Base Realignment and Closure Legislation of 2005, which directed the move of FORSCOM and USARC's headquarters from Fort McPherson to Fort Bragg in 2011.

"Over the years, I've discovered that Soldiers and Army civilians do not care where their leaders come from, what kind of school or what kind of degree they have," Norm said. "The only thing they care about is 'is he competent and does he care?'."

Retired life for the couple holds many adventures waiting to be planned. Linda likes to collect French antiques, and Norm enjoys spending his time restoring vintage cars and motorcycles.

"We talk about taking the time to 'do' things, but rarely do we get that chance," says Norm. "Now, while Linda and I are still young and able, we want to travel and go visit our grand children."

The most immediate plan is for the couple to return to their home in Tyrone, Ga.; then travel to Germany to see family and friends.