After three decades as an officer with the U.S. Army, Col. Harry F. Slife, Jr. retired from service during a retreat ceremony held in front of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command Headquarters, Fort Detrick, Md. June 21.
Slife joined the U.S. Army Chemical Corps in 1982, after completing a Bachelor of Science degree from Youngstown (Ohio) State University via an ROTC scholarship. After earning a Master of Science degree from the University of Maryland, he went on to complete a Ph.D. program in Biochemistry from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.
During his tenure, Slife held multiple positions as he escalated through the Army ranks. His lengthy resume includes service as both deputy commander and commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. His final assignment was serving as program manager for the Joint Trauma Analysis and Prevention of Injury in Combat Program of the USAMRMC.
"That effort, and its importance, will be forever recognized by the United States Army -- and you [Col. Slife] have a piece of that," said Maj. Gen. James K. Gilman, USAMRMC commander. "It's very important work, and we're grateful that you've done it."
Upon receiving numerous service awards by Gilman, Slife quickly stepped to the podium to address the audience, which included family, friends, and staff members.
"The only thing I really want to say is the one thing that I've been saying for years -- and that is, I owe so very much to the Army," said Slife. "Where else could a kid growing up in northeastern Ohio, blue collar family, get a chance for three degrees, live all over the world, and work with some of the most extraordinary people in the world -- most of whom are right here at the MRMC."
Reflecting upon his early days as an officer, Slife commented on a very influential Soldier who showed him "how to be an officer."
"My first NCOIC [Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge], Sgt. 1st Class Lewis, taught me . what it meant to be an officer," he said. "And I left the 2nd Armored Division as a better person because of Sgt. Lewis, and certainly a better officer."
Now that he will not have to "lace up the bootstraps daily," the retired colonel intends to spend more time with his wife and their three children.