Strength in Diversity: Soldier says adversity in Communist Poland led to Army gold
January 27, 2010
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany-Who would have guessed the descendant of a Polish slave laborer during World War II would one day grow-up to become an officer in the U.S. Army'
Spc. Magdalena A. McMillon, Radiology Specialist at the U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schweinfurt, learned she is destined for Officer Candidate School (OCS) after submitting a packet, writing an essay, and appearing before a board Nov. 19, 2009, as part of the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command's (JMTC) OCS selection board.
McMillon was selected for a direct commission and Officer Candidate School.
"Anything, anything is possible, she says. "When we have dreams we should follow them."
During World War II, McMillon's grandmother was forced to leave Poland to work on a farm in Germany until U.S. Soldiers liberated Germany.
"I'm a product of what the Army does. If our Army did not fight for freedom, I would not be alive. It [going to Officer Candidate School] means everything to me. It's a dream come true," said McMillon. "Growing-up, my grandmother always talked about it. It was such an emotional experience for her that American Soldiers rescued her."
This Soldier has a varied past, including being an Army wife for the past 5 years.
She taught high school English in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and taught the German language to students in Poland before aspiring to become a Soldier.
"I always wanted to join the Army," she said. "My grandmother is very proud of me."
It's not clichAfA. Being in the military and being a Soldier means a lot to her. She says she's very proud to be an American.
McMillon became a naturalized citizen in Nov. 2008. Serving in the Army is just one way to give back, she said.
"I was 27 years old. I joined [the Army] when my husband went to Afghanistan," she said. "I needed something to keep myself busy. It was just a good time to do it."
Her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Ronald McMillon, is eligible to retire in about five years.
Fluent in German, Polish and Russian, the two met while she was working as an interpreter in Poland.
He describes his wife as his best friend - a very capable and caring individual.
"I'm at the twilight of my career. When I get out I'll follow her around, and if we have children one day, I'll take care of the kids," said Ronald McMillon. "This is something we discussed, and we didn't take it lightly."
The senior-ranking McMillon said their marriage was made stronger by her decision to join the military because now she has a greater understanding of what he does, and why he does it. Being dual military gave them additional common ground.
"It's a great trade-off and balance," he said.
However, he admits he always wanted her to become an officer. He said she is smart and that's what attracted him to her.
"She's a strong woman," he said. "She can hold her own."
When asked about embarking on her new career in the Army, she said, "I have a different perspective on life because I came from a place where we didn't have a lot. I'm from a country where everyone made the same amount of money, regardless of their job."
McMillon said she understood early what it means to be in a noble profession.
"It matters what we do, not how much money we make," she said. "In my wildest dreams, I never would have guessed that I would have this opportunity."