Col. Ben Braden salutes during his retirement ceremony Friday aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany.
MCLB-ALBANY -- After 38 years in the Marines, Col. Ben Braden has retired as the chief of staff for Marine Corps Logistics Command.
At the retirement ceremony Friday, letters of congratulations were read from officials including two presidents -- President Obama and former President George W. Bush -- Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, LOGCOM Commanding General Maj. Gen. Chuck Hudson and former LOGCOM Commanding General Maj. Gen. James Kessler.
Kessler, who now has a position at the Pentagon, came back to Albany to retire the colonel.
"Thirty-eight years of service to the Corps. You can't sum up 38 years in just a few minutes," Kessler said. "Many retire as a gunnery sergeant, but he kept reaching. Many commissioned officers retire as a captain.
"It's very rare to make it to colonel."
Braden had stayed with the Corps longer than some of higher rank, Kessler said. There are no brigadier or major generals who have served longer than he did. Of 17 lieutenant generals currently in the Marines, three have been in longer than Braden. Of the five four-star generals still active, two have been serving longer.
Kessler described Braden as a "servant leader."
"He made sure Marine families were taken care of," he said. "No doubt we are creating a void (by Braden's retirement)."
Braden enlisted in the Marine Corps on June, 26 1973. After obtaining the rank of gunnery sergeant, he was appointed to warrant officer in 1982. He held numerous staff and command positions during his career, including the command of Marine Wing Support Group 17, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and Marine Corps Logistics Command Forward in Kuwait.
"Some of you came here to see if this (the retirement) was really happening, others came to make sure this happened," the colonel quipped during his opening remarks at the ceremony.
Braden had parting words for some friends, Marines and other co-workers in attendance.
"I want to thank you again for your service," he said to the Marines. "You are what makes this country strong and what makes this country great.
"Time has really flown by, and me standing here is living proof that the Marine Corps has a sense of humor. I was able to serve with the very best this country has to offer. It's the Marines and civilian Marines that have made this a great tour."
Braden's personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal with star and Humanitarian Service Medal.
He and is wife, Terri Braden, have a home in Albuquerque, N.M.
Col. Brent Goddard, a native of Montpelier, Vt., will fill the role being vacated by Braden. Before taking on the role of LOGCOM's chief of staff, he was chief of staff for the 3rd Marine Logistics Group -- a position he had held since June 2009.