FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- One hundred years of experience is invaluable to any organization's ability to demonstrate success, even more so when you are referring to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
USASOC bid farewell to two civil servants that gave a combined time in service of more than 100 years. It was fitting that both retirement ceremonies took place around Independence Day.
Gerard B. Williams, operations chief administration support, retired July 2 after 64 years of combined military and civilian service to his country.
Sharon Smith, operations security specialist, retired July 3 with 40 years of civil service for the Army and USASOC.
Richard Holcomb, deputy to the commanding general, who officiated the ceremonies,
asked the audience to imagine a pyramid. 'This pyramid represents the American public. At the base of the pyramid you have most Americans who consider themselves patriotic,' Holcomb said.
'They pay their taxes on time, they stay within the speed limit, and they do the type of things you would expect normal, law abiding Americans to do. But as you move your way up the pyramid and it narrows to an apex, you find Americans like these, giving their heart, soul, and talent to this Nation.'
Williams, a retired Sergeant Major, enlisted into the Army in 1954 and retired in 1986. Williams said he couldn't see himself doing anything else other than serving his country.
Seamlessly transitioning between military to civil service he said, he began his career with the 1st Special Operations Command, now USASOC.
'Don't remember me as a hero, remember me as part of the family that is no longer here,' Williams said.
With more than six decades of service, Williams supported military operations in times of peace and war. His peers spoke about looking to him for his mentorship and leaning on him for his leadership and experience. Williams plans on dedicating his retirement to taking care of his wife and traveling.
Smith has been a loyal civil servant for four decades. Nicknamed 'the disciplinarian' by her coworker of more than 20 years, Paul Tompkins expressed how much Smith will be missed.
'It's going to take a little getting used to without having Sharon in the office. You've been a great civil servant. You served with honor and distinction, and you've been loyal to the core.' Tompkins said, adding, 'I wish you well, and God speed. And on to the next chapter of your life.'
Smith departed by saying, 'Thank you all for coming. I've enjoyed it. There have been ups and downs, but mostly ups. And now it's time to pass the torch to you young ones, and I'm gone.'