Mulryan reflects on years at JBLM

By Ruth Kingsland/JBLM PAO on December 16, 2017

After completing 27 years in the Army, Joint Base Lewis-McChord Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Mulryan is set to retire. His change of responsibility ceremony, with incomming Command Sgt. Maj. Kenny Clayborn, is scheduled at French Theater Monday at 10 a.m.

His last day in his current position is Friday. Mulryan will go on transition leave, participating in a transition program over the next few months before officially retiring May 1.

He said he’s looking forward to finding a management position in a service organization and buying a home in Western Washington.

“I love it here; it’s beautiful,” he said. “It’s got mountains, water and forests — an outdoor experience.”

Mulryan said he enjoys taking walks and drives with his wife, Jennifer, where people in the Northwest are warm and welcoming.

A New Englander, Mulryan claims the east coast as home; he was born in Maine and grew up in Massachusetts.

After spending much of his early years in foster homes, at the age of 8, Mulryan — who described himself as a terror — and a younger brother were adopted.

“My adoptive mom and dad were awesome,” Mulryan said.

After graduating from Countryside High School in Clearwater, Fla., Mulryan studied at St. Petersburg College for one year before joining the Army. During that year, Mulryan met and fell in love with the woman he refers to as his first love.

However, he said, the timing wasn’t right. Although the couple dated for three months while working together at a local hospital, they went their separate ways and didn’t meet again for several years, after they’d each married and divorced other people and had children of their own.

Seventeen years later, Jennifer contacted him through an email that began: “You may not remember me ....”

“I read it and thought, ‘How could I not remember you?’” Mulryan said.

The couple married 10 years ago and has a blended family, with a combined seven children and two grandchildren.

Mulryan’s military career began as a 2-year, 16-week enlistment. He said his dad didn’t want him to enlist, but each time when his contract was about to end, his dad told him to re-enlist.

“I would call him every other year and he kept saying, ‘You’re doing well; keep going.’ Two years and 16 months turned into 27 years and six months,” Mulryan said.

“Thank God for my father saying, ‘Don’t get out,’” Mulryan said.

Mulryan’s military career has allowed him to serve with units in Vilseck, Germany; Fort Riley, Kan.; LaGrande, Ore.; Fort Benning, Ga.; El Paso, Texas; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Carson, Colo.; and Fort Stewart. Ga. Most recently, Mulryan served for two years at JBLM.

He earned an online Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from Thomas Edison State University, in Trenton, N.J., and in April plans to earn a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Brandman University.

Mulryan has numerous military deployments, awards and accomplishments, including membership in the Military order of Saint Maurice and the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club.

“There have been hard times, and I never will forget the people who made the ultimate sacrifice — both friends and some of my Soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said.

One of his most difficult memories was of a suicide vest attack in Afghanistan in 2012, he said.

His best memories, he said, were of training Soldiers. Some fought him all the way, but later came forward to thank him, because they finally saw why they needed to do what he told them.