News: General officer puts retirement on hold to continue a legacy
Story by Staff Sgt. Emily Anderson
RALEIGH, N.C. – As a child, Richard Torres would watch 82nd Airborne Division and Special Forces soldiers parachute to the ground on Fort Bragg, N.C., and knew he wanted nothing more than to join the Army.
Torres is part of a military family rich in tradition which started when his grandfather Jesus joined the Army from Puerto Rico during World War II. His dad, now deceased, was a retired master sergeant who served in the Korean War, and his sister Joan Williams is a retired Army colonel.
“You do what you know. A child of a doctor will probably be a doctor, and that was how it was with me,” said Torres, who joined the Army in 1981 and received his commission a year later. “All I knew was the Army. It was all around me. It was always there, and I was always impressed by it.”
After 30 years of service Torres was transitioning into retirement as a colonel and had given up hopes of becoming a general.
“This past New Year, my wife and I had reluctantly celebrated my retirement,” Torres said. “I had accepted my situation and began the New Year as a civilian by packing boxes and throwing out old Army documents and presentations, and my wife began the process of planning for my retirement party.”
“I even started working out differently, and believed that this was the start of a new life," he added.
Then he received a call from the Army Reserve telling him that he was recommended for promotion to general. He said he was stunned because he thought the call was to tell him that he was officially being taken off the general officer waiting list.
Torres was promoted to brigadier general in the Army Reserve during a ceremony in his home town of Raleigh, N.C., Aug. 24, 2013.
Maj. Gen. Bill Gerety, commander ,80th Training Command (TASS), hosted the ceremony and Maj. Gen. John McLaren, Jr., the former 80th TC commander, administered the oath and issued Torres his special equipment.
“This is the grade where you are asked to make decisions, have vision for your organization, and to make contributions that will affect our nation for many years after your retirement,” McLaren said in his speech during the ceremony at the North Carolina National Guard and NC State EOC Joint Facility, Raleigh, N.C.
Torres' wife Stacey and his mother, Judith Torres, fastened the one-star shoulder boards to his uniform and his daughters, Chelsea and Blair, presented him with a general officer's belt and beret. Command Sgt. Maj. Eddie Hilliard, Torres's first command sergeant major, and his son, Joseph, unfurled a one-star flag which they presented to the new brigadier general whose official promotion date is Aug. 1, 2013.
Williams and Margaret Jones, Torres' sisters, presented him with a framed replica of a general officer pistol. The same framed pistol Torres presented to their father during his retirement ceremony.
“My dad served 20 years in some of the roughest assignments,” Torres said. “I got that pistol for him to recognize his service and it is symbolic of him and who he was.”
Torres also paid homage during the ceremony to his grandfather who earned a second Purple Heart when he was killed in action during the North African Campaign while serving with the 1st Infantry Division.
“For me personally, it’s an opportunity to continue the service that my grandfather started when he joined the Army,” said Torres who's been the 80th Training Command's deputy commander since May 25, 2013. “To be able to continue what he gave his life for. To let them know their son, [and] their grandson is doing his part to serve this great country and continue their legacy.”