KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General Larry Nicholson has made his home in East Tennessee. He is considered one of the military’s most combat-seasoned and widely admired generals.

Whenever the commander in Chief visits a military installation, it is usually the commanding general who gets to greet him. At Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Nicholson, then a two-star general and base commander, escorted President Barack Obama around in 2013.

“Marine One landed right there on our flight line at Pendleton, I got a chance to meet and greet him,” said Nicholson.

In 1980, right out of the Citadel, then Nicholson and his new bride were not too sure about a career in the Marines.

“I’m going to take this, and in two years we’re out. We are going to do this for two years and then we’re out. Then it was another two years. Then it was, ‘Hey we want you to go to Quantico.’ I never one day woke up and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to be a career man,'” said Nicholson.

During his distinguished 39-year career, Nicholson assumed multiple commands including four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I think service is a noble undertaking. It is not for everybody. The amount of young men and women who raised their hand after 9/11 and said, ‘If not me, who?’ I think was pretty exceptional,” said Nicholson.

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From the war zone in Afghanistan, he would lead daily press briefings for those at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

“I was never asked to, ‘Hey, be optimistic,’ there was none of that. There was the perception that we were handed scripts from on high. I never did,” said Nicholson.

During his time in the service, Nicholson had the privilege of commanding his son, Andrew. in Iraq and serving alongside his other son, Kevin, in Afghanistan.

“That was an unusual situation for me that we were there at the same time,” said Nicholson.

Nicholson led Marines through tough fighting in Afghanistan, he commanded the 1st Marine Division and served as Commanding General III Marine Expeditionary Force.

“I’m a great supporter of all Armed forces. But there is something absolutely something unique and special about being a United States Marines,” said Nicholson.

For retired Nicholson, he lives by the Marine motto SemperFi, always faithful.