JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas Tens of thousands of people choose U.S. Army Installation Management Command as their home away from home as members of a diverse workforce supporting soldiers and their families every day. Each person holds their own unique story and background of a journey to IMCOM including U.S. Army Captain Bill Zarwolo. He offers to share some of his compelling story.
A little over two years ago, Zarwolo took command of IMCOM Headquarters and Headquarters Company at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He then moved to the G3 at IMCOM HQ supporting plans and operations. Zarwolo gives his humbling perspective of the phrase “IMCOM is the Army’s Home”.
“The word home has a different meaning for everyone,” says Zarwolo, “For me, I believe home is where you feel safe. You feel a sense of belonging and most importantly, home is where you grow.” Originally from Liberia, Zarwolo did not always have a safe home where he could focus on growing. He often focused on survival.
“A child in Liberia does not have access to opportunities available in the United States. Rifled with civil war, the chance of reaching my teenage years was close to zero,” Zarwolo reveals, “As a male adolescent during a Liberian Civil War, I had a greater probability of being kidnapped to serve as a child soldier. My family, like many other families, would have been slain by crossfire and had a greater danger of famine or infection.”
Zarwolo survived then thrived. He moved with his parents from Liberia to Greensboro, North Carolina in 2004 when he was 17 years old. He wanted to join the U.S. military but did not initially meet the residency and citizenship requirements. He started his college education at Appalachian State University studying Political Science where his aspirations to join the U.S. military only grew when he regularly witnessed the discipline and professionalism of collegemates in the Reserve Officer Training Course.
“Every time I saw the ROTC cadets walking on campus, I felt more motivated to join. Once I met the prerequisites, I joined the ROTC program and began my military career, a decision I have never regretted.”
Zarwolo continued his education while remaining a steadfast soldier earning a master’s in Information Technology Management from Webster University. His commitment to personal and professional development stems from his core character built on personal experience.
“I fulfilled my desire to serve to give back to a country that has provided so much to a kid who could not see beyond his adolescence. Most importantly, I serve because the U.S. provided my family and I a second chance at life.”
Zarwolo defines a second chance at life as an opportunity to live better than before. “If you would have told me a village child from a war-torn country would become an American Soldier and HHC commander, I would have not believed it. This is a testament that America is a land of immigrants and where dreams become reality.”
The success despite challenges prepped Zarwolo to an extent for his command during an unprecedented modern-day pandemic. Zarwolo ensured the safety of the workforce on the IMCOM campus through team efforts to disinfect areas of confirmed COVID-19 cases. The conditions also prompted the onset of a large teleworking population. Zarwolo responded with the establishment of an updated government equipment accountability process. The resulting resource savings and liquidation of $1.6 million of equipment earned Zarwolo a reputation as soldier who leads with integrity in all his duties among many of the IMCOM staff, Army Environmental Command, 502nd Force Support Group, and the Triad Defense Service.
Zarwolo appreciates ongoing learning from a diverse workforce where mentorship and coaching lead to mutually beneficial outcomes. He continues to teach, inspire, motivate and exemplify the Army values as IMCOM remains his home and beyond.