Operation Tribute to Freedom

OTF Soldier Story for July 12, 2010 - Col. Michael Mann

Colonel Michael Mann

Current Unit: 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)
Current Position: Deputy Commander
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Arlington, Va.
Hometown: Eastchester, N.Y.
Years of Service: 28

Dating back to the Revolutionary War, Soldiers have readily answered the call of duty to protect the Nation’s liberties and all that American citizens hold dear, leaving their loved ones behind knowing that they are fighting to protect the land that their family calls home. Throughout nearly three decades of service in the Army Reserve, Col. Michael Mann and his wife learned to adjust to the pattern of drill weekends and time spent away for training. However, during his year-long deployment to Afghanistan, the Mann family underwent growth and change only to become stronger and closer than before.

Prior to his deployment in February 2009, Mann and his wife, Connie, were planning to adopt two nephews from Namibia. Originally from Namibia, Connie learned that the two young boys were in need of care as one of the boy’s parents passed away and the other’s parents were struggling financially. The Mann’s decided to open their doors to the boys and committed themselves to caring for them as their own children. Despite the hope of a growing family, when Mann received orders to deploy to Afghanistan, he answered the call to serve overseas and was confident his wife would maintain the adoption process at home.

“I didn’t know I was going to be deployed when the adoption process started and I wasn’t sure when the boys’ visas to come to the United States would finally come through. It is a lengthy process and you never know when everything will be finalized,” he said.

While deployed overseas, Mann served as the deputy commander for the143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and was responsible for sustaining all U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan with the full spectrum of logistics support, including water, food, ammunition, fuel and equipment. With a typical work day starting before 5 a.m. and not ending until after 10 p.m., seven days a week, his deployment was by no means easy.

“From a mission standpoint, the most challenging part was transporting such a large volume of equipment into and through Afghanistan, where the terrain is tough to travel as a result of poor road conditions and hostile environments,” he said.

However, as a leader, he considered it a privilege to serve alongside his fellow Army Reserve Soldiers.

“Leading others during my deployment was very rewarding. Seeing such talent and dedication from the Soldiers along with their pride in service and positive attitude was inspiring,” Mann said.

His role as deputy commander also provided him with the opportunity to work alongside service members from sister services and allied countries, something Mann now considers to be a very rewarding part of his deployment.

For meritorious service throughout the deployment, Mann was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, an award he prefers to share with the Soldiers he led.

“I was very humbled and proud to receive the Bronze Star for my service,” he said. “However, it also reflected the talents of the Soldiers with whom I worked. I am proud to serve, and we have the best Army in the world. It is a wonderful opportunity to lead and work with Soldiers to protect our country.”

While motivated by his Soldiers’ pride and dedication, he also applauds his wife, as she was called to make sacrifices while her husband was away in addition to adjusting to her role as a mother. From their long-distance correspondence, Mann could sense the stress his wife was enduring from caring for the children alone and the strain of his deployment.

“She got through it and I know it wasn’t easy, so I’m very proud of her,” he said. “Our spouses are the true heroes, they don’t receive enough recognition for all they do.”

Now back home with his family, Mann describes fatherhood as rewarding, and believes the Army has played a large role in preparing him.

“The Army has prepared me for fatherhood in such a way that has given me that command mentality and the abilities to motivate and inspire,” he said. “My return has made the transition for the entire family very significant, because the boys are coming here from another country and this is my first experience as a father.”

Also during Mann’s deployment, his stepdaughter, Lisa, received a permanent residency visa to join her family in the United States after seven years of separation.

Stateside, Mann continues to serve with the Army Reserve’s 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) unit based in Orlando, Fla. The unit is responsible for managing Reserve logistics Soldiers in the southeast region of the United States. As a civilian, he works as an economist at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Mann and his family live in Arlington, Va.

With 28 years of service to his credit, Mann will retire in two years after 30 years of service. He hopes to talk to his adopted sons about serving in the military one day.

“I’m working to convince my sons to serve their new country by joining the military. So far, they seem like they’re interested,” he said.

Telling the Army Story: Community Relations

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