On a clear, fall day, Gen. Chuck Swannack, Jr. stood in the last military formation of his career. Swannack, known by his colleagues as "Swan Dawg," retired after more than three decades in uniform.
"[It's] about time for me to step aside, let them young horses get out there and do their thing because they're well-qualified to do it," he said.
He has come a long way from his days at Winston-Salem High School and West Point.
"[He] stayed longer than anybody else, was more successful than anybody else. [He's] just a great guy," college roommate Charlie Williams said.
Swannack held every leadership position in the 82nd Airborne from platoon leader to division commander. He said the highlight was leading troops in Iraq.
Swannack spent eight months in Iraq. He was responsible for an area the size of Wyoming. and commanded 18,000, including Lt. Jim Viola.
"[He was] not afraid to just move forward and see who was going with him, so he was a leader from the front," he said.
With family, friends and fellow soldiers watching, Swannack traded in fatigues for civilian clothes.
"Soldiers is what it's all about and I'm going to miss that," he said.
Swannack has been an outspoken advocate for shorter deployments and more rest in between. He spent the last few months as Fort Bragg's second-in-command. Gen. Virgil Packett Jr. takes over that role. His most recent assignment was in Bosnia.
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