My father wanted me to be the first in our family to go to college. Although I was accepted to Rutgers University, my parents weren’t able to afford the tuition. Based on the recommendation of a family friend, I joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, which required a four-year commitment to the Army, and I received a scholarship for my high GPA. Initially, I was embarrassed to have to wear my military uniform around campus. But after my father made me realize that hundreds of thousands of service men and women had died honorably in that uniform, I felt a sense of pride that has never left. During the summers, I participated in military training exercises. After completing my Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, I decided to continue my college studies and received a Master’s degree in Public Administration. During graduate school,I served as a reservist in the 75th Infantry Division. As a commissioned officer,I transitioned to active duty,selected Field Artillery as my occupational specialty, and began receiving leadership and officer training.
The mission of the Field Artillery is to destroy, neutralize, or suppress the enemy by cannon, rocket, and missile fire on the battlefield. To accomplish this mission, the Field Artillery requires bold, dynamic, intelligent,and adaptive officers,capable of making tough decisions under the stresses of combat.
My career as a Field Artillery Officer began in Germany, where I served for three years as a fire direction officer, platoon leader, and operations officer. During the following years,I rose through the ranks via combat tours in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a Battalion Commander in Iraq, I had numerous responsibilities that went beyond traditional firing missions,including capturing and disposing of enemy equipment and arms, establishing command and control centers in abandoned palaces, and managing the Joint Visitors Bureau. The JVB hosted numerous dignitaries, such as Congressmen, foreign ministers, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and even celebrities. Because the field artillery are trained in handling artillery shells on a daily basis, my men had the necessary skills to help Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams safely move or explode the millions of pounds of enemy munitions that were stockpiled in various locations around the country.
In addition to tactical combat operations and fire support, I was also accountable for the costly supplies required to conduct my missions, including tanks, missiles, cannons, and rockets. I have also served at the Pentagon as a military assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, and most recently, to the Deputy Secretary of Defense. As an aide, I had the opportunity to work closely with senior Department of Defense officials. I am currently responsible for assigning captains and majors as artillery officers worldwide and training artillery crew members in areas such as how to handle fire attacks. As I approach the 20-year career milestone, I want to complete the final stage of my professional military education—Senior Service College. Once completed, I expect to reach my career goal of being promoted to a full Colonel and retiring with 25 years of military service.
I attribute my successful military career to the strong mentors and leaders that I have had over the years. Originally, I intended to only fulfill my four-year ROTC obligation to the Army and use the military’s education benefits as a means to a college education, but was inspired and motivated by my superiors to pursue a career in the military. I learned about commitment, how to treat people with dignity and respect, and investing in individuals to help them grow. I hold true to these values and take pride in giving back to those who follow me by encouraging them to get college degrees and challenging them to be all that they can be. The grateful emails I receive from men and women that I have commanded and mentored throughout my career are as valuable, if not more, than my awards and commendations.