Maj. Gen. Kurt J. Stein, commanding general, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, will retire at the end of this month, after a 38-year career in the U.S. Army that has included rising to the ranks of staff sergeant and two-star general.

Stein assumed command of the 1st TSC in July 2012. As the 1st TSC CG, he is also the deputy commanding general – sustainment, U.S. Army Central. He is responsible for all sustainment in the U.S. Central Command area of operations.

During the past 17 months, Stein has led the effort to sort, pack, move and ship home thousands of pieces of equipment that have accumulated in Afghanistan over more than a decade of war. He has served in numerous command and staff positions during his career, including serving as the senior Army logistician in Iraq during the drawdown there.

In his last interview as he moves out the door, Stein said he is most proud of being an American Soldier. He said the Army gave him structure and focus.

Stein joined the Army in 1976, at age 17, and 38 years later, he said he has no regrets.

“I joined the Army to separate myself from the environment I was in, get away from my high school girlfriend (that’s a story for another day), join my brother who was serving at the time, seek some purpose and challenge in life, gain some experience, and see the world. After 38 years, I can now retire — I have accomplished my initial goals,” he said.

Stein rose through the ranks and attributes his early formation in the enlisted corps for his successful career in the military.

“I am so proud to say that I was a staff sergeant — a noncommissioned officer — a sergeant.  It’s the first sentence on every bio I have. Being an enlisted Soldier formed the foundation for my success.  As I said, I will never forget who I am or how I grew up. I will never forget that I was a private, a staff sergeant and a second lieutenant,” he said.

Over the years, Stein said the Army has changed a lot. He has seen the Army grow and overcome the challenges experienced during the Vietnam War era. He acknowledged that more big changes are coming as the Army becomes smaller. But Stein is steadfast in his advice to Soldiers, recalling and old Army motto — Be All You Can Be.

“Ensure you are doing your very best. Be aggressive — be positive.  Know your job.  Continue to grow personally and professionally. Pursue higher education. Look like a professional Soldier 24/7. If you need medical attention, get it.  We owe this to you.  Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself one simple question.  Are you being all you can be? If the answer is yes, you will be A-okay and will weather the storm,” he said.

As he looks back on his years of service, Stein, like most, says there may have been some things that he would had done differently, but joining the Army is not one of them.

“At the end of the day, I can look back at my life and honestly say that I am proud to have served my country as an American Soldier.  I have been blessed with a wonderful Family, a successful career, and most importantly, 38 years worth of friendships and treasured memories with the finest men and women our country has to offer ... our Soldiers and their Families.  I am a blessed man.  Thank you for your service.  Thank you for your friendship, support and sacrifices.  Thank you for being a Soldier.  I wish you all the very best of success, joy and happiness.  May God continue to bless you and your Families forever and ever.”