Lt. Col. John Romito, commander of the 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, is a native of Rolla, Missouri, and a former Air Force officer.
Lt. Col. John Romito, commander of the 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, is a native of Rolla, Missouri, and a former Air Force officer. (Photo Credit: Photo by Amanda Sullivan, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Throughout the course of his 19-year military career, Lt. Col. John Romito, commander of the 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, has served at more than a dozen locations worldwide, with his latest assignment giving him the opportunity to come back to the place he calls home to share what he has learned.

A native of Rolla, Missouri, Romito attended the University of Missouri – now the Missouri University of Science and Technology – where he completed the Air Force ROTC program with hopes of being a pilot. He commissioned as an Air Force officer in December 2003, and went active duty the following month. After marrying his high-school sweetheart, Ashley, he headed to Columbus Air Force Base, in Columbus, Mississippi, for flight training.

After about six months in the program, Romito faced a problem — he couldn’t overcome the air sickness he experienced while conducting aerobatic maneuvers.

With being a pilot off the table, he went to Vandenberg Air Force Base — now Vandenberg Space Force Base — in California, to attend nuclear launch officer training before assuming duties as a nuclear launch officer in 2005, at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota — something he said he didn’t find very fulfilling.

“That just wasn’t what I wanted to be,” he said. “They were all very lovely people, but I didn’t have any sense of accomplishment, or a real sense of contribution, or that I was really good at something, or had a purpose that meant something.”

With the war on terrorism in its early stages, Romito said he felt like he wanted to be a part of the fight. Also in its early stages was the Army’s Blue to Green Program — referred to now as the Inter-Service Transfer Program — that allows Airmen, Sailors and Marines to transfer to the Army.

In 2006, he applied for and received an interservice transfer to the Army as a field artillery officer. After completing the Field Artillery Captains Career Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas.

While he has been blessed with good leaders throughout his career, it was his first Army squadron commander who would inspire him to become the type of hands-on leader he is today, he said.

“I wanted to be that guy — he was a giant in my eyes,” Romito said. “He took so much time to help me and to teach me and to mentor me that I decided I needed to do the same thing for others.”

Through his actions, the commander showed Romito that leadership is about doing everything you can to develop and promote the advancement of the people who are junior to you.

Now back in Missouri, where it all began, he is responsible for more than 150 permanent party Soldiers and six basic combat training companies — which when full, makes the welfare and success of more than 1,000 people his responsibility.

That commitment to his Soldiers he chose to emulate years ago, is something he takes with him wherever he goes, according to Col. Kyle Moulton, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence G3, who first met Romito more than six years ago while they were both assigned to the 25th Infantry Division at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

“John has unquestionable commitment to the success of any organization to which he is assigned,” he said. “He does not just invest more than his fair share of effort, but also takes pride in investing in others and relishes the opportunity to develop subordinates and watch them grow and succeed.”

One of those Soldiers is Company F Executive Officer 1st Lt. Jordan Harper, who said Romito’s hands-on approach to making sure Soldiers under his command are taken care of is something he would like to emulate as he grows as a leader.

“He is consistently putting people in positions to take control of their careers and develop themselves,” Harper said. “He goes out of his way to make sure they can go to the schools they want or receive the training they want. He empowers us to make ourselves better.”

Romito, who has about a year and a half left in his position as battalion commander, said he encourages other leaders to accept and cherish the responsibility of their position.

“As leaders we have the opportunity to have positive influence on the future and lives of a lot of people, and that is an important and meaningful role,” he said.