(CNSNews.com) - After 39 years of service to this country, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno retired on Friday, thanking all military spouses -- and especially his wife Linda -- for helping to "make us a better Army."
In addition to praising Linda's "selfless service," Odierno noted that she's attended more than 500 memorial services for fallen soldiers over the years.
We'll let the general speak for himself:
"She sacrificed her entire life for me. I can never repay her for that.
"It's often hard for me to stand up here and make other people understand how much our spouses sacrifice.
"You don't understand. You don't understand everything that they do every day in order to make us a better Army. I don't believe there's any other profession (where) we count on our spouses to do so many things.
"And Linda is the epitome of that.
"Just one fact. Over the last 15 years, Linda has attended over 500 memorial services. I just want you to think about that for a minute. There for our families.
"Most of the time I was not there, because I was deployed. But she was there for our families. Her dedication to our wounded warriors, and everything that she's done. I simply can never repay you, honey, I love you with all my heart, and you've made me a better man. Thank you very much."
Earlier, Odierno said he'd told Linda, his high school sweetheart, that he would spend five years in the military, and then get out. "Linda, our five years are up," he joked.