OTF Soldier Story for April 12, 2010 - Lt. Col. Michael Girone
Current Unit: 416th Theater Engineering Command
Current Position: Deputy Chief of Staff
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Varna, Ill.
Hometown: Livingston, N.J.
Years of Service: 28
Being a Soldier means constantly learning and knowing how to overcome obstacles, which is exactly what Lt. Col. Michael Girone did when asked to serve in a new role during his deployment to Iraq. He not only welcomed the challenge, but volunteered to stay in Iraq for additional time to successfully complete the mission. As an Army Reserve Soldier, he continues his commitment to serve his country and mentor the Soldiers he works alongside.
During his deployment to Iraq last year, Girone served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Project and Program Management Division (PPMD). He was primarily responsible for providing leadership and accountability for all staff and personnel, including Soldiers, civilians and contractors. Although assigned to the 416th Theater Engineering Command, he deployed to augment a United States Army Corps of Engineers unit to fill an open position.
After serving overseas for a year, Girone chose to extend his deployment for several additional months.
“I chose to stay in theater because I knew I had subject matter expertise and there was a great need for that skill set. Unlike most of the people in my unit, I didn’t have an engineering background; however, I was able to administratively support the unit,” he said.
In his role with the PPMD, Girone had the opportunity to work directly with a variety people, including Iraqi civilians and contractors.
“The people as a whole were very professional. They were all about getting the job done,” he said. “I gained a lot of respect for the engineers I worked with. They overcame a lot of obstacles working with the Iraqi contractors.”
Prior to his deployment to Iraq, Girone deployed to Kuwait in July 2005 for 12 months with 377th Theater Sustainment Command.
Currently an Army Reserve Soldier, Girone has previously served on Active Duty as a Noncommissioned Officer (NCO). Enlisting in the Army shortly after graduating from North Carolina State University, he served on Active Duty in Germany for several years. After becoming a sergeant, he went to Officer Candidate School and was commissioned on July 29, 1982.
Reflecting on his nearly three decades of service, he notes several changes in today’s Soldiers.
“Soldiers are just a microcosm of civilian society. Things have definitely changed for everyone,” he said. “I think guys question a lot more now. They are respectful about it, but they always want to know why. I don’t think anyone did that when I was a young Soldier—we knew what we needed to do and we did it, regardless of the reason why.”
However, working closely with many young Soldiers during his deployment, he said he was pleased with the caliber of troops.
“I was very impressed by the quality of the Soldiers. A lot more of the enlisted Soldiers and NCOs nowadays have college degrees. That gives you a much more intelligent Army,” he said.
As an Army Reserve Soldier, Girone works as a chiropractor when not serving in uniform, and he and his wife, also a chiropractor, run a practice together. Although his civilian occupation is drastically different from his role as a Soldier, he recognizes that there are several transferrable skills between the two, including interpersonal skills.
After serving overseas for 14 months, Girone returned in February to his home in Varna, Ill., that he shares with his wife and two teenage children. Later this month, he will be transferring to the 84th Training Command out of Fort Knox, and this summer he hopes to be promoted to the rank of colonel.