MAJ Thomas Henderson (ret.)
I was commissioned as a Combat Engineer in 1979 after receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree, Engineering Technology, St. Cloud State. At ROTC the highest position I held was as Cadet Major and the Cadet Battalion S-3.
After Engineer Officer Basic Course at Fort Belvoir, VA assigned to D Company, 16th Engineers (the Catamounts) with the 1st Armored Division (Old Ironsides) in Germany as an Engineer Platoon Leader and later as the Company Executive Officer; supported the 1st Battalion 13th Armor (Thirteenth Tank) and the 1st Battalion, 52nd Mechanized Infantry (The Ready Rifles) patrolling and protecting the old inter-German border, or affectionally known as the Iron Curtain.
I saw the error in my ways and in 1983 I requested a transfer to the Infantry (the Queen of Battle!) and then reported to the Infantry Officer Advance Course at Fort Benning, GA.
After the finishing the Advance Course and being promoted to Captain I asked to go overseas again and in 1984 I was told to report to the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea. Somehow I got diverted and ended up serving as an Assistant G-3 / Command Post Battle Captain at the Eighth Army headquarters in Seoul. There I met my future wife so that wasn't too bad.
I returned to the US in 1985 and I reported to the 101st Airborne Division -- America's Screaming Eagle Division and the world's only Air Assault division!
I served as a S-1 in the 3rd Battalion, 327th Infantry (The Battle Force), then as Assistant S-3 in 1st Brigade before assuming command of Company C (the Cold Steel Cobras) of the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry (The Bastogne Bulldogs) where, while leading my Air Assault soldiers on a bayonet assault course at the Ranger School, I nearly lost my life during a training accident and settled for being merely very seriously injured. Thankfully, the surgeons and hospital staff at Fort Benning are very skilled so I lost neither my life nor my left arm.
Leaving the Screaming Eagles I reported to the First Brigade (The Liberty Brigade) of the ROTC Region located at Fort Dix, NJ where I served as the Executive Officer with perhaps one of the greatest Infantry Colonels I had ever met and who I accepted as my mentor and with whom over 15 years later I still keep in touch with. An infantry officer who, by the way, served as a rifle company commander in Viet Nam with the very same Screaming Eagle battalion (1-327th) I served in and who was wounded by a Viet Cong bayonet in the left arm. Real life is amazing. As I was still recovering from my injury I decided that I was going to first, earn a Master of Business Administration degree, then second, leave the Army for the unknown of civilian life. I accomplished both goals in 1991.
Since leaving the Army, which by the way I loved and still love very much to this day, I returned to the Twin Cities and began putting my newly minted MBA degree to work and started working in operations management and administrative management in both the for-profit and the not-for-profit worlds. Some where along the line I earned another master's degree and I am currently appointed as the Assistant Dean of the School of Business and Technology of Capella University where I am working on a PhD in Organization and Management.
My military awards are the Army Achievement Medal, three Army Commendation Medals, three Meritorious Service Medals, two Overseas Medals, and One National Defense Medal. I am Airborne (!) qualified and Air Assault (!!!) qualified. My last military rank was that of Major or the very rank I left Army ROTC with!
To paraphrase the Grateful Dead: Its been a long, strange journey.
My best wishes for you, the NCOs and officers of the battalion, and especially those great young Americans who have chosen to wear the uniform and to raise their right hand and swear to God that they will protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and with whom I have full faith and confidence in their abilities to do just that.
Air Assault Infantryman