MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - May 15, 2014, marked the end of an illustrious 38-year Marine Corps career for Maj. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.<br /> <br /> Gurganus previously the deputy commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command will be returning to his hometown, Wilmington, North Carolina. <br /> <br /> “It’s pretty difficult to take it all in at first. I still miss the first thing that I wake up and see in the morning, which was Marines,” said Gurganus about his retirement. “I have been honored and privileged to lead Marines.”<br /> <br /> Despite personal accomplishments throughout his time in the Marine Corps, Gurganus said he is still humbled by the actions of the Marines he led. <br /> <br /> “I am most proud of my three combat tours, and having the opportunity to watch Marines do what Marines get paid to do. The willingness to sacrifice being away from home and loved ones, to take on dangerous missions in a country where they cannot even speak the language,” said Gurganus. <br /> <br /> Gurganus enjoyed his time helping and mentoring Marines and couldn’t make his final exit without final words of advice. <br /> <br /> “Be true to who you are. Be true to the institution. Every day is not a holiday and every meal is not a feast. But you are learning things here that are going to help you throughout your lives,” said Gurganus. “When you get up in the morning just make a commitment to yourself to do your best.”<br /> <br /> Gurganus is going to enjoy his first full-time free schedule with his family at home.<br /> <br /> “At this point in time I have no plans. I’m going to get reacquainted with my wife on a full-time basis, until she makes me get a job,” said the 38-year veteran as he chuckles. “And I’m going to do some fishing.” <br /> <br /> He also not only had a message for other Marines but also a message for himself when he was a 2nd Lt.<br /> <br /> “I would tell him keep his mouth shut more, keep his ears open more, pay attention to what the people above him are trying to teach him and that he exists for one reason. He exists to train, to teach and to take care of those young Marines you are going to take charge of,” Garganus said to his younger self.