By Staff Sgt. Carmen Fleischmann, Florida National Guard Public Affairs Office August 24, 2016
TAMPA, Fla. -- Army Lt. Col. Kevin Holiday, deputy commander of Special Operations Detachment Central (SOD-C) boarded a C-130 Hercules for the final jump of his military career at MacDill Air Force Base. He was joined by several other SOD-C Soldiers, and special operations members from other branches of military service.
Army paratroopers require a minimum of four jumps per year. This particular type, the static line, marks over 200 for Holiday to date, but holds a special significance as it marks the end of his long and highly decorated military career.
"I have really enjoyed my time in the military," said Holiday. "I've done plenty enough -- hit all of the waypoints I was hoping to and I just thank God that He kept me whole and healthy at the back end of 35 years."
After spending three years on active duty with the 307th Engineer Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division, Holiday enlisted in the Florida Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group in 1985. He attended officer candidate school and over the last 31 years of service in the FLARNG has served in a variety of positions, but always returned to Special Operations. He admits however, that engineering has always been his true passion.
"From roughly 2003 to 2015 I worked in the Construction Facilities Management Office. This year I began working for the Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville, as a civil structural engineer," said Holiday. "It's where my heart is at."
A few of the members who jumped alongside Lt. Col. Holiday have served with him since before he was an officer.
"I met Holiday in 1985 when he was an E-5," said Army Master Sgt. Kevin Allen, the SOD-C Operations Non-Commissioned Officer. "We grew up in special forces together, in the same battalion. He went to OCS, got commissioned and then went back to the course as an officer."
Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Brami, a paralegal with SOD-C, said that he has always been impressed with Holiday's fitness level. During a mission they were on in Kenya, he said Holiday was the only one of their group that would do physical training with the Kenyans, which included a daily run up a mountain at a 45-degree incline.
"The Kenyans … run marathons and these guys were the military version of their marathon runners. He actually was the only one of us that would go run with them," said Brami. "He beat a lot of them and came in second to the top of the mountain. As an American, from Florida where there aren't any mountains … the guy is in super great shape, much better than anyone else I know his age or length of career. "
Dedication to physical fitness is just one aspect Holiday has focused on in not only his career but in life as well.
"Someone had once given me a description of us as a human being- that we have three parts to us. We have the mental man, the physical man and the spiritual man," said Holiday. He continued by encouraging younger Guardsmen to take the time to develop each aspect, and not to be in such a hurry to reach the end of their service.
"Don't be in a hurry to get through your time in the Guard or in life," he said. "Enjoy the ride and don't rush through the end thinking that's where it's at. So many philosophers will tell you that it's the journey and not the destination."
After leaving the service, Holiday will continue to work for the Army Corps of Engineers, and enjoy the extra time with his family in their hometown of St. Augustine.
"Thirty-five years … it's a long time to be in uniform. And not so much that it bothers me personally, I could continue to do this, but … I just want to start paying a little more attention to the home front and enjoying time with my wife and seeing my kids," he said.
Holiday said that his service would not be possible without the strong foundation and enduring faith of his family, especially his wife Karol.
"I've had eight deployments in the 31 years in the National Guard, and I know this is probably a common theme for anyone who stays married through their entire career, but I could not have accomplished what I did without her help and her support," said Holiday. "She definitely shares in anything I've accomplished and I give her a lot of credit for everything she's done."