Operation Tribute to Freedom

OTF Soldier Story for June 1, 2009 - Col. Darlette Stowers

Colonel Darlette Stowers

Current Unit: 3rd Battle Command Training Group, 1st Brigade, 75th BCTD
Current Position: Executive Branch Chief - Observer Controller Trainer
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Wichita, Kan.
Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Years of Service: 25

As an officer in the Army Reserve, Col. Darlette Stowers wears many hats. As a leader, student and mother, she transitions, sometimes by the minute, between the battlefield, classroom and home. Much of the advice she gives translates across the universes she occupies, often influencing the life lessons she imparts to those under her leadership, as well as those living under her roof.

In 2007, the mother of six received orders to deploy with the 243rd Quartermaster Battalion in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. At the time, Stowers' husband, Lt. Col. Rocko Stowers, an instructor in the Center for Army Tactics, had entered the hospital for observation. The two made the decision that Col. Stowers should make the deployment with her Soldiers. Despite the eight hour difference, she was able to stay posted on her husband's current condition. A week before he was supposed to be discharged his health took a sudden turn for the worse and he unexpectedly passed away. Despite the great personal tragedy, Stowers realized her troops needed her to complete the mission and that as a Soldier it would have been her husband's wish.

After returning to Kuwait, Stowers and the Soldiers in her command were responsible for providing force protection, base operations and life support for close to 12,500 joint military and civilian personnel at Camp Arifjan. For meritorious service during her deployment, including not losing any of the Soldiers in her command, Stowers was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.

Although her schedule would fell the faint of heart, Stowers has skillfully juggled her priorities and responsibilities in her life. It was important to her to support her children's activities, and so as they were growing up she made sure she was always at their important athletic or academic events. Like most mothers of large families, she knew she could not be everywhere at once, but she would find a way to be there when it mattered most.

This summer, Stowers will add a new priority as she was selected to attend the U.S. Army War College via the Distance Education Program while concurrently continuing to take courses to receive her doctorate in leadership from Capella University. With her dissertation underway, she hopes to become Doctor of Philosophy in Organization and Management Leadership by this time next year. After she completes the two-year program at the Army's most senior military educational institution, Stowers will be eligible for promotion to the rank of General.

Stowers, who lives in Wichita, Kan., will have a full house again this summer, as four of her children will return home from college. Following in her and her late husband's footsteps, their eldest son is a member of the U.S. Air Force.

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