By Maj. Lindsey ElderSeptember 11, 2017
A famous motto in the U.S. Army is "Nothing happens until something moves." Movement of military personnel, equipment, and supplies to the right place at the right time takes a lot of skillful planning, analysis, and intuition. Demonstrating those qualities for the transportation challenges in the vast Pacific region are the reason Capt. Frederick Teeter was named the Transportation Corps Army officer of the year.
Currently serving as the planner for the 8th Theater Sustainment Command G5 at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, the 2008 University of Wisconsin, Whitewater alumni and father of four joined the Army in 2003.
When he was growing up, Teeter envisioned being a policeman or a firefighter, admitting military service wasn't on his radar. That was until the September 11th attacks, which motivated him to enlist at the earliest opportunity, his 17th birthday.
"On September 11th, I was in high school. I saw that, and that's why I started talking to a recruiter. I found out another good friend had joined and he kind of talked me into it. It was the whole deal; growing up on a farm, a way to pay for college, but it felt like a sense of a duty after the attacks."
"I was a combat engineer when I was enlisted, and I wanted to be an engineer while I was in college, but at the time the Army had a deal where you could guarantee either duty station or job if you traded extra years. I took the guaranteed first duty station, which was Germany, and just kind of rolled the dice with the job. They picked Transportation Corps."
And how did the nation's top transporter feel about that decision then? Not good. But sometimes things happen for a reason.
"I was very disappointed at the time. But when I was given an opportunity to switch branches later, I had started to like it, so I did not change."
Movement can encompass across the state, across country, and across the world. Before Teeter proved himself a master movement over rail, road, sea and sky, he was a self-described "quasi-nerdy" farm kid.
"I grew up in a very rural area and I enjoyed that. That's why cities are foreign to me," he said.
A 2004 graduate of Edgerton High School, he grew up with a deep affection for movies and always took his education seriously. Had he not enlisted, he thinks he would have leaned toward starting a business.
"In high school I enjoyed management and that's where I started taking all the business classes, gravitating me towards that focus," Teeter recalled.
Once in college, he joined Army ROTC as a Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP) Cadet with B Co., 397th Combat Engineer Battalion of Dodgeville, WI and continued to foster his passion for business. Teeter commissioned into the Transportation Corps and earned a degree in Business Management from University of Wisconsin Whitewater in 2008.
Almost ten years later, Teeter was presented the Regimental Transportation Officer of the Year award by the Army Chief of Transportation, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey W. Drushal during a ceremony in July at Fort Lee, Va. Seeing his achievements formerly recognized at this level was a family affair; accompanied by his wife and children, his mother also traveled from Wisconsin to see him receive the award.
Teeter said one of his favorite parts of being a transportation officer is that every job you go to is different.
"My first job was managing Petroleum, Oil, Lubricants (POL) trucks. It was a fuel distribution company. Then I went to a line-haul distribution company, where it sounds very similar, but the problems are completely different. Then I transitioned into something like this where you're planning for theater-wide distribution," he said.
"You kind of get to pick your career; you get to do something different if you choose to. It's not like in the infantry where you're might go from an infantry platoon to an infantry company to an infantry battalion to an infantry brigade, and you're always going to be around infantry Soldiers. Transportation is something where you can go do niche jobs if you choose to".
When first selected to be a transportation officer, his engineer unit at the time came up with the nickname "U-Haul" for him because that's what most people think of transportation in its simplest form.
"They think of this little piece of transportation where we deliver the goods and assume that's all we do. But we have the Army watercraft, we have the fuel, we have warehouses, we have a little bit of everything; we're more like Amazon than U-Haul. We have the entire supply chain management," he said.
Teeter admits he was very surprised to hear he had been selected for the honor of being the Transportation Corps officer of the Year. He feels like one of the biggest reasons he won was the impactful opportunities and projects he's been a part of for the 8th TSC, and the teamwork of the 8th TSC G5 shop in particular.
"One of the big criteria for the award was 'What you've provided to the Transportation Corps' and a majority of my efforts were in planning, and the whole G5 team backing me. I happened to be the lead of some large projects, and I had a whole section helping while I kind of orchestrated them. The other half of the year, I was teaching Army ROTC at Wake Forest University and Winston Salem State University. So it was a pretty good year to help shape the future of the military," he said.
While serving as a full-time Assistant Professor of Military Science, he was also a part time student, completing his Master's in Business Administration at Winston Salem State University in January of 2016 with GPA of 4.0. He was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, a professional organization for business management who only take the top two percent of a graduating class.
As for what's next, Teeter has another year to contribute to the strategic logistics planning across the 9,000 mile wide Pacific region, and hopes to continue his professional development by attending the Army's School of Advanced Military Studies. He would also like to get out of his logistics comfort zone of transportation and learn more about overseeing mortuary affairs efforts.
"It's overseeing the removal of remains and the planning involved for return to their final resting spot. I've always been impressed that we continue to have a dignified process for moving remains that could have been from conflicts 40 years ago to the way we still conduct ramp ceremonies today," he said.