By By Staff Sgt. Amy Wieser WillsonMay 3, 2010
FARGO, N.D. - Numerous well-wishers and award presentations ushered a North Dakota Army National Guard officer into retirement May 1. Col. Robert Walton ended a 30-year military career during a retirement ceremony at the Fargo Armed Forces Reserve Center.
"I thank you on behalf of the North Dakota National Guard and the U.S. Army for your 30 years of military service," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. "But most importantly, I thank you for taking care of our Soldiers and their families."
Walton received his commission as an engineer officer from the North Dakota State University ROTC program in 1980, and went on to serve more than 11 years in the Army Reserve and more than 18 years in the National Guard. During his service in the Guard, he commanded the 2nd Battalion of the 164th Regional Training Institute, 142nd Engineer Combat Battalion and, most recently, the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. He deployed to Iraq from 2007-08 as the executive officer for the Engineer Brigade, 34th Infantry Division.
During today's ceremony, Walton was presented the Legion of Merit medal, the second highest federal peacetime award. The citation recognized his distinguished career, saying he "exemplifies the finest qualities of leadership, professionalism and untiring dedication to duty."
Walton also received the Army Engineer Association Bronze de Fleury award, which is reserved solely for engineer officers, a U.S. flag cased in honor of his retirement, a National Guard plaque recognizing his 18 years of service in the Guard, a Certificate of Service in honor of 30 years in the military and a number of letters from leaders throughout the chain of command.
Each subordinate unit under Walton's command also presented a special award, with carved plaques or framed certificates coming from the 188th Engineer Company (Vertical), based in Wahpeton and Oakes, N.D.; the 815th Engineer Company (Horizontal), based in Edgeley, Wishek, Lisbon and Jamestown, N.D.; the 817th Engineer Company (Sapper), based in Jamestown; the 231st Brigade Support Battalion, based in Valley City and Fargo, N.D.; and Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, of Fargo.
Walton's wife, Patricia, also was honored during the ceremony with a Certificate of Appreciation for her support of her husband's military career. Patricia, too, serves in the military - as a master sergeant with the North Dakota Air National Guard.
Walton began his remarks by thanking his family, saying, "If it weren't for family, I wouldn't be able to participate in the Guard this many years." He also thanked the guidance of senior leaders and noncommissioned officers throughout his career, and the Soldiers he has had the pleasure to serve with for the past three decades.
Walton lives in Fargo, N.D., and has two children: Melanie and Andy. He is a registered civil engineer at the North Dakota Department of Transportation, serving as the Fargo district engineer. Following his retirement from the Guard, he plans to keep connections with his military family by serving with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, or ESGR.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,500 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently, about 800 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas. With a total force of about 4,400 Soldiers and Airmen, sufficient forces remain in the state for emergency response and homeland defense.
High-resolution photos to accompany this release are available on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/ndguard. Navigate to the photo set titled "Col. Walton's Retirement."
For more information
North Dakota National Guard General to Retire; Hensel to be Promoted to General as Palmer Retires, Walton also Set to Retire (4/28/2010)
Col. Walton's Legion of Merit Award Citation
Col. Robert R. Walton Jr., United States Army, distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service to the United States at many levels of command, culminating in his assignment as the brigade commander for the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB), Fargo, N.D., from August 2008 to June 2010. Throughout his career, Col. Walton successfully served in a variety of command and staff positions in units in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard, ranging from assignments with the 237th, the 231st, the 141st and the 142nd Engineer Battalions, the 164th Engineer Group, the 164th Regional Training Institute and the 34th Engineer Brigade, including a demanding deployment assignment with the 34th Engineer Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, in support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in Baghdad, Iraq.
Throughout his exceptional 30-year military career, Col. Robert Walton has excelled in his professional endeavors, always providing professional technical expertise, inspirational leadership and vision. From March 2007 through April 2008, Col. Walton was assigned to the Gulf Region Division of USACE in Baghdad, Iraq, as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Security, Plans and Operations. While in Iraq, Col. Walton worked directly for the USACE Gulf Region Commander executing over 3,000 projects valued in excess of $2.3 billion in support of the reconstruction of the Iraqi infrastructure. During this tour of duty, Col. Walton was awarded the Bronze Star from the USACE, Multi-National Force, Iraq, for his exceptional contributions to the reconstruction efforts during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He served as the battalion commander of the 142nd Combat Engineers (Heavy), headquartered in Fargo, N.D., from 2004 through 2006. Col. Walton led the 142nd Battalion through two humanitarian engineering missions in the Philippines and Alaska, stood up a newly formed Military Police Company, and prepared the unit for transition to the soon-to-be-formed MEB. Prior to taking his Engineer Battalion Command, Col. Walton served for over four years with the 164th Regional Training Institute (RTI) for Engineers located at Camp Grafton in Devils Lake, N.D. While serving as the operations officer and later executive officer for the 164 RTI, Col. Walton had the opportunity to influence the training of thousands of Army engineers who passed through the schoolhouse. Thanks in no small part to Col. Walton's influence, the 164 RTI enjoys a national reputation as a leader in training standards; first-rate facilities; professional, accredited staff and noteworthy customer service to Soldiers. Second only to Ft. Leonard Wood in the number of Army engineers trained each year, it is safe to say each Army Engineer unit across the country has members who have been trained at the 164 RTI under Col. Walton's tenure.
He is a consummate leader and an exemplary Army officer. Col. Walton exemplifies the finest qualities of leadership, professionalism and untiring dedication to duty. His actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect distinct credit upon himself, the North Dakota National Guard and the United States Army.
Col. Walton's Biography
Col. Robert Walton was raised in Moorhead, Minn. After graduating from Moorhead High School, he attended North Dakota State University where he earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1980. In 1994, Walton earned a master's degree in business administration from Minnesota State University Moorhead. Walton received his commission as an officer upon completing the ROTC program at North Dakota State University in 1980, and he reported to his first command: Company D, 367th Engineer Battalion in Fargo, N.D., where he was assigned as a platoon leader. He spent his first 11 years of commissioned service in the Army Reserve in various units in Kansas and North Dakota. During this time, he held three detachment commands, as well as serving on a battalion staff as an assistant S-2/3.
Walton served as the S-2 (intelligence) and S-4 (logistics) officer while assigned to the Headquarters, Headquarters Detachment of the 231st Engineer Battalion in Bismarck, N.D. This was followed with an assignment as the engineering equipment officer for the 164th Engineering Group, also in Bismarck. In 1995, Walton served as the executive officer for the 141st Engineer Combat Battalion (Wheeled). In 1998, Walton became the S-3 (operations) officer for the 141st Engineer Combat Battalion (Wheeled) followed by the S-3 officer for the 142nd Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy) in Fargo, N.D. During this time, Walton completed the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
In 2000, Walton became the operations officer for the 164th Regiment (Regional Training Institute) at Camp Grafton Training Center, near Devils Lake, N.D. The 164th RTI supports soldiers throughout the nation by providing many different military occupational specialty courses, particularly in the engineering field. In 2002, Walton became the battalion commander for the 2nd General Studies Battalion at the 164th Regional Training Institute.
Walton then became the battalion commander of 142nd Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy) in Fargo in 2004. In 2006, Walton served as the executive officer for the Engineer Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, out of Bismarck, N.D., prior to transferring to be director of facilities for North Dakota's Joint Force Headquarters, also in 2006.
In 2007, Walton deployed with the Engineer Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, to Baghdad, Iraq, serving as the Gulf Region Division deputy chief of staff for security, intelligence, plans and operations, supporting the Army Corps of Engineers. Walton returned from Iraq in 2008 and became the commander of the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.
Walton was awarded the Bronze Star while deployed in Iraq and has received the U.S. Army Meritorious Service Medal, numerous Army Commendation and Achievement Medals and a myriad of awards and decorations.
Walton and his wife, Patricia, live in Fargo, N.D., and have two children: Melanie and Andrew. In his civilian career, Walton is a registered civil engineer and works for the North Dakota Department of Transportation as the Fargo District Engineer responsible for the state's interstates and highways in the southeast part of North Dakota.