FORT BLISS, Texas (KTSM) – Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Williams couldn’t find a better time or more appropriate place to retire from the Army after more than three decades of service.
Williams, a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, relinquished responsibility Friday, March 3, as the senior enlisted leader for the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss. He also went through his official retirement ceremony, ending 33 years in the Army.
“This is the pinnacle of my career,” Williams said after the dual ceremonies. “This is the best place, the best duty station, the best city you could hope to achieve and I see nothing in my mind that could come close to this that I would want to do after, which is why I choose to retire here in this place, this city and installation and move on from here.”
Williams has served for the past three years as the 1st Armored Division’s senior enlisted soldier. He and his family also spent eight of the past 10 years at Fort Bliss.
Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel Rapp is scheduled to succeed Williams, but a timetable for his arrival at Fort Bliss was not available.
“This has been the absolute greatest part of my career to spend my time, myself and my family, here in El Paso and Fort Bliss,” Williams said.
Williams noted that he has served in five of the 1st Armored Division’s seven brigades.
“If I had served in the last two that I didn’t get to be a part of, I think they would have given me a set of steak knives,” he joked.
Williams said he and his family, especially his teenage children, consider El Paso to be their hometown now.
“The Army moves us (soldiers) around a lot; every two or three years, you move,” Williams said. “You live in a lot of houses, but you live in very few homes. You live in a lot of towns, but you don’t have a lot of hometowns.”
Williams said his family has enjoyed the friendly people, the great food and the mostly sunny weather here.
He said he loved to get up early, do his morning run and see the glorious El Paso sunrises.
Williams said that Fort Bliss is also an excellent place to serve and conduct the Army’s mission. He cited Fort Bliss’ huge training area, which is roughly the size of the state of Rhode Island.
“You can take a brigade combat team of 4,400 soldiers and all their hundreds of pieces of equipment, that is a large formation, and put them out in the training area,” he said. “You can really stretch that organization out logistically and tactically so they understand the tyranny of distance and what it means to fight over distance.”
Williams said he and his family will enjoy some time here in El Paso and visit with their military and civilian friends but they plan to eventually move to Kemah, Texas, which is on Galveston Bay.
The Williams family plans to live on his sailboat and “see the world by sea,” he said.