Williams native retires from Army after three decades of service | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | December 29, 2017 5:25 pm
Last Updated: December 27, 2017 at 11:50 am
U.S. Army Col. Bruce A. Stephens, a 32-year veteran and native of Williams, was celebrated during a retirement ceremony aboard the historic Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 15.
Stephens, who most recently served as the senior intelligence officer for the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, said that his retirement ceremony would not be about him, but instead of the efforts of those family, friends and service members who helped him along the way.
He praised a special person who had a significant impact on his life, but was unable to attend the ceremony.
“Although you can’t be here today, I want you to know you’re a big reason for me being where I am today,” said Stephens. “Thank you, mom!”
Stephens described his mom as the toughest, most battle-hardened and combat-tested individual he knows and that he will be forever indebted.
He also thanked his father for his support and looks forward to reconnecting with them both in the coming months, he said.
Brig. Gen. Sean Gainey, the commanding general for the 94th AAMDC presided over the ceremony, and thanked Col. Stephens and his family for their dedication to the nation.
“It’s amazing, looking at you and your beautiful family today — no matter all the accolades, streets named after you, all the great things you’ve done — at the end of the day when you walk off to retirement, it’s the family that we all want there with us as we transition,” said Gainey.
“If you had the opportunity to sit and talk to Bruce and listen to his story,” Gainey told the audience, “it’s a story of determination, destination and just hard work.”
Gainey also shared a few quotes and comments from the soldiers Stephens led.
“‘He cares about each of us and our families. I appreciate his high expectations and how he makes everyone feel important and that they are contributing to the team,” said Gainey, referring to Stephens’ soldiers’ comments. “He may get mad at times but he forgives quickly, without a grudge and most importantly he leads with love and from the front,’” he continued.
Gainey closed his remarks by saying, “The pride of Williams, South Carolina is the pride of the 94th AAMDC, the [military intelligence branch] and the Army.
“Congratulations Bruce — to you and your family — and you can walk away knowing that you had left your mark and your legacy on this organization and the United States Army.”
Stephens enlisted in the Army in 1986 and received his military commission from the Army’s Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga., in 1988. Stephens served as an infantry officer before becoming an intelligence officer. Stephens graduated from the University of South Carolina and attended the University of South Carolina School of Law.
As a career intelligence officer, he spent time in Fort Ord, Fort Bragg, the Republic of South Korea, Japan and Hawaii. He also deployed in support of combat operations.
Along the way, he helped his wife of 27 years, Maria, raise the couple’s two children; their daughter, Coco, a recent graduate of John Hopkins University and their son Gabriel, a high school senior.
As he donned his military uniform for the last time, Stephens thanked his family, friends and fellow service members for the great memories during his military service.
“I am looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that await me in the next phase of my career,” said Stephens. “I know that the Army has prepared me to take on the world. Mahalo!”