By W. Wayne MarlowDecember 15, 2017
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- A Department of the Army civilian recognized by her peers and a series of commanding generals as First Army's most famed and foremost employee is retiring.
Jimmie Ring, a native of Bettendorf, Iowa, has served the Army as a Soldier, contractor and civilian. During her distinguished career, she held several key positions in First Army during times of considerable transition for the organization.
Ring initially came to First Army in 1993, serving a three-year Active Duty Operational Support tour as a computer programmer in the headquarters at Fort Gillem, Georgia. In 2006, she returned to the organization as a dual-hatted Army Reservist and DA civilian, serving, in succession, as the commanding general's executive officer, the deputy chief of staff, and the deputy of Operations, Plans and Training.
"Jimmie Ring is an icon at First Army," said First Army Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Stephen Twitty, during Ring's recent retirement ceremony at First Army Headquarters. "Very few people know that I command First Army, but a lot of people know that Jimmy Ring is part of First Army.
"When people say 'First Army,' they automatically think of Jimmie Ring. That is the reputation she has built as an expert as a First Army civilian. She is the expert."
Twitty said he knew of Ring's reputation even before assuming command of the unit in 2016. As the day of his assumption of command approached, Twitty said, he would get periodic updates from First Army, "and everyone would call out this name 'Jimmie.' 'Jimmie this, Jimmie that.'
"First of all, I thought it was a man and, second, I thought he must be a deputy commanding general, because Jimmie was the one who approved everything."
That high esteem for Ring was again evident when Twitty had separate meetings with the two commanders to precede him at First Army.
"Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek called me and said, 'Whatever you do, listen to Jimmie Ring, because she knows it all,'" Twitty recalled. "And when I sat down with Lt. Gen. Michael Tucker, he told me, 'I'm going to give you one piece of advice: whatever you do, listen to Jimmie Ring.'
"She knows her craft," Twitty continued. "She can be one tough lady, and she'll let you know if you're jacked up. She knows things by the book. She handles things well. She's aggressive, intelligent, selfless and dedicated to the mission."
Ring's time with First Army included a 2011 move from Fort Gillem to Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois.
"We did really well," Ring said of the move. "It was a great distance away, and First Army was still executing mobilization operations, and we were doing a total renovation of the building. The other big challenge was making sure the technology worked, that all the data was moved, and that we reestablished the networks."
Once settled in at the Arsenal, the unit's greatest challenge was geographical.
"It can be difficult, with the dispersion of the command across the continental United States," Ring said. "And we're a one-of-a-kind command, so nobody understands us. That, along with the reduction in headquarters and division staff, and the collapsing of the brigades, were some of the biggest challenges during my time here."
But those challenges were met, thanks to teamwork and perseverance.
"Since it is a small command, it's a tight group," she said. "Everyone is dedicated to the mission, and we all feel like we're making a difference, so you get a lot of satisfaction from executing this mission."
First Army Deputy Chief of Staff, Tommy Thompson, who has served with the unit for a quarter-century, has seen scores of personnel come and go. Of them all, he said, "Jimmie Ring is the best action officer I have ever worked with."
It was an honor to be part of the First Army team, said Ring, who received the Meritorious Civilian Service Award.
"I appreciated your support and hard work as we moved the ball forward and did the things the Army has asked us to do. We've been through a lot of change here, and this team keeps rolling along."
Her retirement plans include skiing, bicycling, extensive travel, and spending time with her grandchildren.