OTF Soldier Story for December 1, 2008 - Col. Lew Irwin
Current Unit: Joint Enabling Capabilities Command
Current Position: Deputy Chief of Staff
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Hometown: McMurray, Pa.
Years of Service: 22
West Point alumnus and Army Reserve Soldier Col. Lew Irwin and his family have celebrated the Army-Navy football game for many years, sometimes watching the game together at home, other times tuning in from where they've been stationed abroad or getting together for friendly rivalry with Navy buddies. This year they'll watch from the stands in Philadelphia as Cadet Mary Irwin, Col. Irwin's daughter, takes the field to march with her classmates.
As a member of The Long Gray Line who has also taught at the U.S. Military Academy, Col. Irwin is well-equipped to give his daughter advice during her first year at the storied institution. Although he jokes that Mary will have no trouble adjusting to the cadet lifestyle after living with him, he is quick to point out that her decision to attend West Point was driven by her own personal commitment to service.
Col. Irwin is proud that all three of his children have expressed a dedication to helping others. His son also plans to become an Army officer and his second daughter is interested in a teaching career. No doubt they were inspired by their father's own experiences as a Soldier and educator.
Col. Irwin has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan during his 22-plus years on Active and Reserve Duty in the Army. On his most recent tour of duty in 2007 he helped design and implement a nationwide reform of the Afghan National Police Force. He earned the Bronze Star Medal for this effort which he says was one of the most fascinating missions he has conducted. He recalls seeing young women walking to school through the streets of Kabul, something he saw as a true sign of change from the ways they lived under Taliban rule.
In his civilian life, he often draws upon these experiences in Afghanistan when teaching political science as a professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa. He notes that 10 or 15 years ago, the Army's more conventional missions didn't directly correlate with themes he lectured on in class. Today though, he finds that the complex international challenges facing Soldiers and other U.S. military service members are very applicable to the theories and concepts he teaches.
Col. Irwin currently serves with the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command out of Norfolk, Va., and resides in McMurray, Pa. with his wife and family. In June of 2009 he will take command of the 301st Regional Support Group out of Butler, Pa.