Military retirement quotes

Military retirement quotes such as these sayings and excerpts from speeches are ideal ways to celebrate one who is retiring from the military. Perhaps there are so many quotable military sayings because officers are always giving speeches. Also, there is something about the bonding of military service that encourages both a dry sense of humor and an aspiration to greatness.

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Serious and inspirational military retirement quotes

American flags

Land of the free because of the brave
-- Bumper sticker

Peace is our Profession
-- Air Force saying

Never was so much owed by so many to so few
-- Winston Churchill.

Better to fight for something than live for nothing."
-- George S. Patton.

At Iowa Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.
-- Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, U.S. Navy

This flag may fade but these colors don't run.
-- Charles M. Province

Soldiers in the distance preparing to board a troop carrier. This is at sunset.

The long gray line has never failed us.
Were you to do so, a million ghosts
in olive drab, in brown khaki,
in blue and gray,
would rise from their white crosses, thundering those magic words:

Duty, Honor, Country.

-- General Douglas MacArthur’s farewell address at West Point

A poem about how those in service are revered during times of danger
and forgotten during times of peace:

The danger passed, and all things righted,
God is forgotten and the soldier slighted.
It's Tommy this, and Tommy that,
And chuck him out the brute,
But it's "Savior of his Country"
When the guns begin to shoot!

Our God and soldier we  adore
At the brink of danger; not before.
After deliverance, both alike requited.
Our God's forgotten, and our soldiers slighted.

---Francis Quarles, 16th Century English poet

It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious.
-- President George Washington

I don't lose any sleep at night over the potential for failure. I cannot even spell the word.
-- James Mattis

I have not yet begun to fight!
-- Navy Captain John Paul Jones

The Marines have landed and the situation is well in hand.
-- Richard Harding Davis

And they live tradition; the United States Marine
bears upon his shoulders the nation’s past and
the nation’s hopes for the future.
-- Hanson W. Baldwin

The Marines will never disappoint
the expectations of their country – never!
-- Captain  C.W. Morgan, U.S. Navy

I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world.
-- General Douglas MacArthur

Military retirement quotes -- the lighter side of military life

The military retirement quotes below are a good way to add some lite humor to your speech.

The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.
 -- James Mattis

The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire.
-- Air Force saying

They're on our right, they're on our left, they're in front of us, they're behind us; they can't get away from us this time.
 -- General Chesty Puller

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!
--Lieutenant Howell Maurice Forgy

Now, when you boys get home, you're gonna see a lot of war protestors. But don't be bitter. Go up to one, shake his hand, and smile. Then wink at his girlfriend, because she knows she's dating a pussy.
 -- Tommy Franks

Old soldiers never die . . . they just fade away

Old soldiers never die; they just fade away -- That's the most famous quote from General Douglas MacArthur's retirement speech before Congress. Most people do not realize that the phrase originally came from an old Army ballad.

One version of the lyrics appears below which differs slightly from the Vaughan Monroe version on YouTube. The ballad became widely popular  after General MacArthur used the phrase in his farewell address.

Listen to a clip of this ballad by Vaughan Monroe.

There is an old cookhouse, far far away
Where we get pork and beans, three times a day.
Beefsteak we never see, damn-all sugar for our tea
And we are gradually fading away.

Old soldiers never die,
Never die, never die,
Old soldiers never die
They just fade away.

Privates they love their beer, 'most every day.
Corporals, they love their stripes, that's what they say.
Sergeants they love to drill.
Guess them bastards always will
So we drill and drill
until we fade away.



 . . And when he gets to Heaven
to Saint Peter he will tell,
"Just another soldier reporting, Sir.
I've spent my time in hell."

-- Unknown

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