He had a knack for electronics back in junior high.
People even asked the young man to fix lights in their house, and during his last two years of high school, he was wiring entire homes with his vocational electronics school classmates.
Preston Mingo, readiness and training specialist, G37 training and exercise branch, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, is known to his family and friends as Pres.
“My love for electronics and my desire to work on larger things is what made me want to join the Army,” he said. That was in 1977.
Mingo’s skills in electronics led him to select 24Q as his first Military Occupational Specialty. The Nike-Hercules fire control mechanic joined the Army at 17 and served 30 years active duty, during that time he deployed as part of Operations Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom and achieved the rank of command sergeant major.
“Including my active duty time and time working for the Army as a civilian employee or contractor, I’ve served a total of 44 years,” the Columbia, Mississippi native said.
He trained for a whole year learning the electrical systems for the Nike-Hercules air defense missile system, including the radar.
“I liked it so much I learned to work on electrical for other MOSs,” he said.
Later in his career, the air defender changed his MOS to 14E, Patriot fire control operator, and he has been involved with the Patriot Missile System from its beginning with the U.S. Army.
After learning everything about the Patriot, Mingo was selected to train future Patriot Soldiers. “I was involved with training the Army’s very first Patriot Soldier,” he shared.
He later worked as a contractor for Raytheon, the Patriot manufacturer, to write all of the programs of instruction for the missile system.
His expertise and involvement with the Patriot missile system allowed him to see its evolution from its initial purpose of shooting down aircraft to successfully shooting down Iraqi Scud missiles during the Gulf War.
After working with radar equipment electronics and computers, Mingo shifted to working more with people once he was promoted to the rank of staff sergeant.
“I found my knack in leadership,” Mingo said. “I became a student of leadership and a leadership buff.”
“It just took me to a different side. Although I enjoyed working on radars, I enjoyed working with people more,” he said.
He also started attending college once he made that career shift to a leadership role. He took a lot of college-level examination program tests and attended school at night.
“I earned my associate degree in general studies, my bachelor’s degree in social psychology, and my master’s degree in management and leadership,” he said.
“I love leading people,” Mingo said. “I love being part of a team and always want to be a part of a top-performing organization.”
In addition to leading, Mingo has done a lot of teaching in the Army. He’s taught at many leadership schools, and was commandant of the 8th Army Noncommissioned Officers Academy in Korea.
“I taught American Soldiers and the Korean Augmentees,” he said. “All the young men in South Korea have to do two years of service and four years of reserve time. They augment the U.S. units if there is a war and they serve as interpreters between us and the leadership there,” the retired command sergeant major added. He said that it was a unique role because he served as the command sergeant major and the commander as well.
Mingo’s teaching roles also included teaching as an associate professor for the sergeants major course at the Sergeants Major Academy and for the first sergeants course. He became video teleconferencing technology certified and started distance learning for the first sergeants course.
“I taught at three or four sites at one time, eight hours a day on the camera,” he said. “I would coach, teach and mentor.”
Mingo retired from active duty as a command sergeant major in Korea in 2007 and remained there and worked as a contractor until 2011 when he transferred to the Pentagon.
There he worked as a program specialist with the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program. It is a Department of Defense effort to promote the well-being of National Guard and Reserve members, their families and communities, by connecting them with resources throughout the deployment cycle. He worked with the program throughout Kentucky and Virginia connecting families with resources.
Then Mingo went to work at Fort Meade, Maryland, as an operations specialist for First Army Division East in the operations center.
After leaving there, he returned to teaching and taught as an associate professor at the Sergeants Major Academy.
Mingo returned to his air defense roots when the air defense school was moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. There he worked on a contract learning continuum and built a lifelong air defense training program.
“We created total tasks for all ADA MOSs,” Mingo said. “We read manuals and identified all of the tasks for each skill level,” he explained. “We pieced together… and built 6,000 tasks.”
He explained that a board then decided what the critical tasks were for that year. He worked on that project for two years.
His next move took him to 1st Theater Sustainment Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2016. He’s been a First Team member ever since. He even moved to Fort Knox with 1st TSC.
Mingo currently works in the G37 section as a strategic planner and leads teams during planning events. He puts his teaching and leadership skills to work during the pre-deployment training events for our rotational sustainment brigades and the expeditionary sustainment commands.
“I often lead teams during expeditionary sustainment command and sustainment brigade’s planning events and culminating training events. During these events I interact with other commands and serve as 1TSC’s representative,” he said.
Mingo and the other members of the team are a large part of what enable those rotational units to come into theater prepared and ready to execute their missions.
When Mingo isn’t traveling for work or visiting his family back in Texas, he enjoys working out and running. He likes sports, fishing, horseback riding, and listening to music. He likes all animals, but especially dogs.
For community service, he began planning to create an East Marion High School Alumni Initiative Program in his hometown of Columbia, Mississippi. He hopes this initiative will help connect students with relevant resources and information to reach their maximum potential in academics, careers and civic responsibility.
Mingo also shares in his family’s legacy of military service. His uncle served in WWII in the Navy in the Pacific region. Mingo’s older brother, Charles, was drafted and served during Vietnam, and another brother, Lawrence, served in the Army for more than 10 years during the Cold War period. Finally, his son, Richard, served in the Navy during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mingo maintains a positive outlook on life, loving what he does here with the First Team.
“Every day is a holiday and every meal is a feast," he says.