I can’t believe it is over, 20 years of service WOW. Tonight, April 25th, 2007 the cadre and cadets put together a very professional retirement ceremony for MSG Ramos and myself. We assembled as the Chippewa Battalion in Warner Hall on the campus of Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI at 6pm. The ceremony began with the National Anthem and an opening prayer. The master of ceremony was Cadet Vulcan, the cadet battalion commander. Cadet Vulcan was articulate and professional, setting a tone that made for an impressive ceremony. The brigade commander, COL Jimmy Coates, flew in from Chicago and expressed his heartfelt appreciation in a way that only COL Coates can talk.
Lead by Cadet Hardy, the cadets unfolded and folded the Nation’s flag while the cadet command sergeant major read the 12 folds of the flag and what they represent by Denny Knutson. This was especially appropriate and done well. I hope the cadets listened to the degree to which God, whose Son is Jesus Christ, is a part of our Nation’s history and foundation. A flag was presented to each of us and I know it will take a prominent spot in my office. Coins and plagues were presented and the cadets really surprised me with a donation of $50.00 for the church—I will designate the funds for our DVD ministry.
Then Cadet Suzanne Albert, representing the MSII class from this year and last year, entertained the cadets with a monologue of comments and thoughts of my years as a teacher. She did a great job and I appreciate all the kind things that were said.
Major Gregg Mays was gracious in his description of my two year contribution to the battalion, and I am forever grateful for his support during the past ten months of transition. Without his permission and support I would not be the pastor of Berean—Praise God—for God’s use of men yielded to His will.
After a retirement award was presented and Major Mays spoke, I had a chance to address the cadets one final time. I first expressed my gratitude to God for His divine intervention in pointing me towards the Army and Fort Sill’s drill sergeants that helped me grow up. Then I attempted to communicate the degree to which I am indebted to Pam for her unbelievable support for me during 18 years of marriage. She is and has always been awesome. Words to the cadets, or on this blog, cannot express how much I love Pamela. She is a precious gift from God and I am often guilty of not thanking her enough. Often she was raising Austin by herself and that is an incredible task. Army wives are a special breed of women. Then I thanked Major Mays and failed to properly thank Denise, Mary and Larry for their support. MSG Ramos has been awesome this year doing so much of the NCO work in the battalion so I could pastor on the weekends. If Ramos wasn’t in the battalion I couldn’t have done what I did each week in NC. Finally, I reminded the cadets why the Army exists and again attempted to emphasize the importance of keeping foremost in their mind the reality that the Nation does have an enemy. Radical Islamic Fundamentalist wake up each morning fully committed to killing Americans and changing our way of life. I tried to help the cadets understand that unless they keep this foremost in the thinking they will not be focused on what is important as a leader of warriors. I reminded them that they will be the Army’s captains when boys like Austin will be entering the Army.
Then an equal time was devoted to properly recognizing the contributions of Ramos’ three years of service in the Chippewa Battalion.
The ceremony concluded with the Army song and a closing prayer by Jeff Scott. Outside a 75mm cannon fired blanks as a tribute—that was touching—and a great touch especially for Ramos who served tirelessly as the Cannon Club advisor.
Then we assembled for a wonderful reception prepared by Denise. Cake decorated in red, white and blue, meatballs, sodas, chips and fruit and vegetable trays—thanks Denise. We cut the cake under the guiding hand of Denise, the Chippewa’s Battalion ‘mom’ for 29 years. Then the cannon club presented me with a very nice Columbia fleece embroidered with CMU ROTC and my name. I reminded them that in NC we don’t have to wear jackets because we have this thing called the sun.
During the reception Jeff Scott played a video montage of pictures of each of us since the earliest days of our careers. I watched for a few minutes until I couldn’t hold it together anymore. The pictures brought back many memories and reminded me that I was done. Bitter-sweet, and yes, I know that it is God’s will, but we are still humans who get sad. I will definitely miss soldiering—pictures of the men I have served with bring back memories and memories that only those who have served understand.
The saddest part to the entire night was that Pam and Austin could not be present. I should have invited my father-in-law as well—he has been such an incredible supporter of my career. I just didn’t think about how nice of a ceremony the Chips put together.
I invited and invite each of the cadets to look me up in Fayetteville as they graduate and spend time at Bragg.
At 10.02pm I signed out, activated the alarm, turned out the lights and walked down the hallway of the field house for the last time as the senior military instructor of the Chippewa Battalion of the Central Michigan University ROTC program.
And now I embark upon a complete focus an entirely different kind of warfare—spiritual warfare and intellectual combat for the Eternal King and His Kingdom for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.