Army Company Quartermaster Sergeant Gerry White hung up his uniform for the last time this week following 43 years of service.
The renowned Cork military historian and author addressed colleagues with a moving farewell speech at a coffee morning in his honour held at Collin's Barracks
He cast his mind back to the time he first joined the army.
“I was so anxious to join the army that I enlisted on my seventeenth birthday. In 1974 the world was a very different place.
"East and West were caught in the grips of the Cold War, Northern Ireland was in turmoil, the cost of living was rising rapidly, industrial unrest was rife - and nobody knew how it was all going to end.
"During those dark days the Defence Forces was one of the organisations that stood between stability and chaos here in Ireland and over the years members have also made huge sacrifices to restore and maintain peace while serving with United Nations-mandated peacekeeping missions in countries that were torn apart by conflict."
"This is a record that we should be proud of and I hope I was able to make my own small contribution during my years of service.”
The speech also paid testament to his colleagues.
“During those years I have been honoured and privileged to have served with some amazing, hard working and dedicated people of all ranks and in all units, both at home and abroad.
"Many of those people are here today and I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your advice, help, comradeship and, most of all, for your friendship.
"However, the robust nature of service in the Defence Forces means that it is almost inevitable that arguments and differences of opinion will occur in the performance of our duty.
"With that in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to anyone who I offended during my time in uniform and ask their forgiveness.”
"Throughout my years of service, I was always conscious of the huge debt of gratitude that I owed those who went before me. Today, as I hang up my uniform for the last time, I will always be conscious of the debt I will owe to those who come after me. I salute you all and thank you for your service to me, to the organisation and to the people of Ireland."