OGDEN -- Robin Shipley still remembers sitting under a tree with five of his closest friends in 1969 talking about Vietnam. It was then they decided maybe they should enlist in the military before it enlisted them.
He and a friend signed up for Army Reserve. Two other friends enlisted in the Air Force Reserve.
Since that day Shipley hasn't looked back, and the military has been his life.
He retired with the rank of command sergeant major, the highest enlisted rank, at a special ceremony at Fort Douglas on Feb. 5 and was awarded the Army Meritorious Civilian Award as well as the Legion of Merit Service Medal, for civil service and for military service, respectively.
Although Shipley will still be at his post for a few months, his retirement ceremony was official.
Shipley served with the Army Reserve and traveled the world. He started out stationed at Defense Depot Ogden but also traveled to Kentucky for training and then to advanced field artillery training in Oklahoma. He was assigned to the field artillery battalion in Ogden for 17 years and then in 1985 was assigned as an operations sergeant at Fort Douglas.
Shipley worked at Defense Depot Ogden for years for a private contractor. In 1982 he caught wind of an opportunity to work at Fort Douglas for the Army as a civilian. He applied and has been there in a civilian role as well.
Capt. Anthony John, a public affairs officer, has worked with Shipley for a short time, but says he feels utmost respect for him in every way.
"When you add up his time as a soldier and his civilian years it is over 70 years of service to our military. Who does that in this day and age? He is an example of values and what this institution stands for," John said.
Shipley loved his time with the military and traveling widely to give service and aid to those in need over the years.
"I don't think a lot of people know the amount of service the Army Reserve gives," Shipley said. He especially enjoyed his time in Third World countries. One of his fondest memories was his time in El Salvador.
"It is always astounding to see what we have in America compared to what other countries have," Shipley said.
Another fond memory was helping Eskimos in Alaska. It was humbling for him to be able to help the Eskimos with dental care and different needs they had gone without for many years.
The humbling service is one of the main reasons Shipley decided to stay with the military once his initial six-year enlistment was over.
"I enjoyed the people and what the Army Reserve was all about," he said.
He has also enjoyed his civilian career in the same respect. John said it is people like Shipley who make things work at the U.S. Army Reserve Joint and Special Troops Support Command at Fort Douglas.
"He works with a staff that numbers above 100, and he handles himself with a certain amount of finesse. It is very comforting to know that our organization is in good hands when he is around," John said.
Shipley also credits much of his success in the military to his wife and son.
"My wife and son have only known me as a soldier, and my wife has stood behind me 42 years and allowed me to experience my dream," Shipley said.
He gives his wife and son a lot of credit for handling everyday life while he has been serving his country.
"They've been real champions," he said.
Shipley lives in Ogden with his wife. He has one son and is looking forward to spending some good time with them and working on his house in his retirement.
"The shock of being retired has not set in yet," he said. He doesn't think he can ever leave his military service totally behind. He still talks with a few of those friends he sat with under that tree in 1969, one of whom chose a life in the military as well.
"I am so humbled," he said of the many accolades he has received over the years. He is most proud of the Legion of Merit Service Medal he was recently awarded and a Humanitarian Service Award he received in 1995 after helping with floods in North Dakota.