REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – One Soldier’s life of service prepared him for the next chapter in a book far from being finished.
Col. David R. Baxter, who assumed duties as the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command chief of staff on Aug. 19, 2019, retired from the Army during ceremony at USASMDC’s headquarters, Oct. 14.
“I look forward to spending more time around family and having more flexibility with them but am saddened to leave the camaraderie of my Army family,” Baxter said. “I will miss the coaching, teaching and mentoring and the established sense of belonging to this time-honored profession.”
Baxter enlisted in the Army and attended basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in 1983. He then attended quartermaster advanced individual training at Fort Lee, Virginia; and then served at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
From 1986 to 1987, he attended the United States Military Academy Preparatory School, and in 1991, he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. Baxter has held leadership positions from platoon leader to brigade commander. He has been stationed in Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate and Korea.
He said the best advice he received in the Army is to be the best you can be and also be the best anyone has ever seen, regardless of the job you are given.
“To our young lieutenants, you are now a senior apprentice with master tradesman responsibility,” Baxter said. “You need to know your Soldiers, listen to your noncommissioned officers, and learn your trade craft from administration to operations. Make sure you see the forest and don’t become fixated on the tree in front of you.”
Baxter said USASMDC is an amazing organization filled with talented professionals who he will miss.
“I will miss the friendships and the positive climate throughout the command,” Baxter said. “The Army is a profession like no other. An amazing amount of responsibility with an expectation of routine success is given to our young leaders – all while holding themselves to a higher standard. I am proud to have served our nation, Army, our Soldiers, civilians and families these past 39 years. I have seen enormous change and I know the Army is in good hands.”
Baxter said he plans to work in a field related to the Army and Department of Defense to continue contributing in service to the nation.