Grandfather’s Army story inspires retiring colonel to serve, mentor over his own 37-year career

By C.J. LovelaceJuly 2, 2024

Col. Markot and his inspiration
Col. Peter B. Markot is pictured as a fresh U.S. Army enlistee in 1987, left, and as a seasoned leader at the rank of colonel in 2019, right. In the center, Markot's grandfather, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Walter P. Markot, is pictured in 1941 as a first lieutenant. The younger Markot credits his grandfather as the inspiration behind his 37 years of service to the nation, which draws to a close with his retirement July 31. (Photo Credit: C.J. Lovelace) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT DETRICK, Md. -- High above Europe and the front lines of World War II, then-1st Lt. Walter P. Markot piloted his B-26 Marauder toward another Nazi target.

In 1942, Markot, who rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel before retiring after nearly 36 years of service, earned his wings as one of the first Army Air Forces pilots of the medium-range bomber that was notoriously difficult to fly, but proved to be one of the safest and most effective of America’s mid-level bombers.

A few short months later, he flew out of MacDill Field in Tampa, Florida, on secret orders with the 450th Bombardment Group to Europe to support the allied war effort.

“He spent 27 months bombing Nazi targets in Europe -- with no R&R -- until February 1945,” his grandson, Col. Peter Markot, recounted in a recent interview. “What’s really remarkable is he flew lead for 44 combat missions as a first lieutenant … never lost a man, never lost a plane.”

The younger Markot said that, while military service has run in his family, it was his paternal grandfather and namesake -- the “P” stands for Peter -- who really inspired him to join the Army after graduating high school in 1987.

Markot described his late role model as patriotic, driven and motivated, while also living a modest lifestyle.

“In addition to his decorated military career, he really epitomized what it meant to be a part of ‘the greatest generation,’” Markot said. “… He was a role model for me for nearly 50 years.”

Although he passed away on Memorial Day 2016, just months short of his 99th birthday, Markot said his grandfather’s experience and life lessons shared over the years have helped him hone his style as an effective Army leader over his own nearly 37-year career.

As he prepares to retire at the end of July, Markot reflected on his decades of service, spent mostly as a Medical Service Corps officer. His final assignment was with U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command.

“It’s hard to believe that much time has passed,” he said. “You’re so busy doing it so for long that you don’t think about it -- next assignment, next assignment. Then I get to this point … and I’m amazed almost my entire working life has been in uniform.”

Close colleague Col. Joselito “Joe” Lim, AMLC’s current chief of staff, expressed joy for Markot’s next chapter in life, but also loss as “a cornerstone” of the Army Medicine community retires.

“Col. Markot’s contributions to our nation are immeasurable,” Lim said.

A grand commissioning

Born and raised in New Hampshire, Markot enlisted as a unit supply specialist in the summer of 1987. He completed basic and advanced individual training before reporting to his first duty station, the recently renamed Fort Liberty in North Carolina.

Markot completed a two-year enlistment before transitioning to the Army National Guard in New Hampshire, where he served for nearly eight years. The final two years he spent simultaneously in ROTC, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Saint Anselm College. He was commissioned as a distinguished military graduate in 1996.

At the age of 79, Markot’s grandfather presided over the oath and commissioned his grandson.

“And he still fit into his Air Force uniform,” laughed Markot, who later earned a Master of Arts in healthcare administration from the U.S. Army-Baylor Program in 2007.

Commissioning ceremony
Now-Col. Peter B. Markot, right, is sworn in as an Army Medical Service Corps officer during a ceremony in 1996. Swearing in Markot is his grandfather, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Walter P. Markot. Col. Markot credits his grandfather and his service as the motivation to write his own Army story, which comes to a close July 31 after nearly 37 years. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Col. Peter Markot) VIEW ORIGINAL

Years later, when Markot earned his promotion to lieutenant colonel, his grandfather attended that ceremony as well at the Pentagon.

“That was an extremely special memory that I will cherish forever,” Markot said. “The Army surgeon general approved the use of the Medal of Honor Room and my aunt and uncle brought (my grandfather) with them to the Pentagon for the ceremony, where he was recognized for his service as well.”

Over the years, Markot has served in numerous leadership roles throughout the Army medical enterprise, from field units and military hospitals to headquarters staff positions.

His most recent assignments at AMLC included assistant chief of staff for support operations, or SPO, and later director of the Strategic Initiatives Group, a special assignment that is driving change to better integrate medical assets, such as supplies and equipment, into the Army’s larger sustainment enterprise.

The SIG, as it’s often called, has spearheaded an effort known as MEDLOG in Campaigning, or MiC, an initiative to address issues that have long plagued the enterprise, including the lack of a common operating picture, deficient demand forecasting, non-standard catalogues and an overreliance on non-deployable support structures, such as military brick-and-mortar hospitals.

“This is 25, 30 years in the making,” Markot said of the MiC effort. “This is a whole-of-government approach -- definitely a whole-of-DOD approach -- to make this happen. It’s a very deliberate, arduous process.

“And to be a part of that, it’s been really amazing,” he added. “Although we won’t be there by the time I retire, I’m confident that the enterprise is going to get there.”

‘Remarkable character’

Markot’s retirement will mark “the end of an era” that leaves a large void at AMLC, Lim said, in the daily operations of the Army’s Life Cycle Management Command for medical materiel.

“From the moment I met Col. Markot in 2005, it was clear that he is a person of remarkable character and unwavering dedication,” Lim said. “His commitment to our nation has been nothing short of extraordinary.”

As peers and senior leaders, Lim said Markot continues to be a confidant and steadfast friend, offering guidance during difficult situations.

“He has taught me, and so many others, the importance of resilience, integrity and compassion in leadership,” Lim said. “His ability to remain calm under pressure, to navigate in challenging times with grace and to support the team with unwavering loyalty is something I will always aspire to emulate.”

Reflecting on Markot’s career achievements, Lim said his colleague leaves a legacy of honor, professionalism and an “unyielding” commitment to duty.

“We lose not just a colleague, but a cornerstone of our community,” he said. “Col. Markot’s absence will be deeply felt in the hallways, strategy sessions and in camaraderie of shared moments.

“Yet, we also gain something invaluable: the example of a life well-lived in service to others, a benchmark of excellence to aspire to and a friend whose influence will continue to shape our paths,” Lim continued. “Thank you for everything, Col. Pete Markot.”

Col. Markot retirement
Col. Joselito "Joe" Lim, left, chief of staff for U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command, presents Col. Peter Markot with his official certificate of retirement during a June 28 ceremony celebrating his nearly 37-year career at Fort Detrick, Maryland. (Photo Credit: C.J. Lovelace) VIEW ORIGINAL

‘Train the next generation’

As a junior officer, Markot said he would often channel his thoughts on certain situations and ask himself: “What would my grandfather do in this same situation?”

“I’ve always carried that thought with me … and when I was younger, I could actually talk to him about it from time to time,” Markot said.

While the experience of his grandfather and other family members helped lay his foundation, Markot said he’s further honed his leadership skills through observation.

“You can be taught the fundamentals and the basics of leadership, but everyone learns differently,” he said. “I learned by observing my leaders, my peers, trying to take lessons from leaders who precede you -- how do they manage, what’s their temperament, how do they communicate?”

Markot said leadership cannot be approached with “a one-size-fits-all” attitude. A leader needs to be malleable, able to shift tactics for different situations and environments.

After joining the ranks of field-grade officers, Markot said he focused more on influencing and empowering the team around him. Then, after being promoted to colonel, a colleague summed up his final role to the Army in a few words.

“He said, you’ve achieved all the success in the world in your professional career; your work is done,” Markot recalled. “Now, your responsibility is to train the next generation.”

Those words, along with the examples set by numerous previous leaders, have empowered Markot to really embrace the teaching, coaching and mentoring aspect of his roles in recent years.

Among those mentored by Markot was Lt. Col. Ibrahim Kabbah, who joined AMLC as a major under Markot on the SPO team.

Kabbah said Markot had high expectations, but always trusted him and gave him room to work on his assignments, such as leading hiring efforts for several new staffers to join the directorate.

“Col. Markot’s style of leadership is rare,” Kabbah said. “He would take the time to mentor, teach and even go through the learning period with me. He always made me feel like I was supported and trusted me to make decisions on his behalf.”

Markot said he truly relished the opportunity to invest in people and sometimes, like in the case with Kabbah, pushing them beyond their comfort level professionally.

“Because that’s where you grow,” he said. “And sometimes, they will come back and say, ‘thank you for believing in me.’ There’s almost no greater feeling as a leader.”

Kabbah said AMLC and the Army as a whole will miss Markot’s leadership as he enters retirement.

“AMLC is losing an extremely experienced, strategic and knowledgeable leader,” Kabbah said. “He is a great mentor and always took it personally to develop the next generation of leaders -- a real old-school officer. I will miss him.”