Into the Twilight
Attaining the grade of lieutenant colonel is often considered to be the hallmark
of a successful career, although each officer defines success differently.
DA PAM 600-3 (11 December 2007)
Having recently attained the grade of lieutenant colonel, I am generally (no pun intended) in agreement with that statement. But the later part of it did catch my attention. Is the mere attainment of a certain rank enough to say "I had a successful career"? I don't think, in my case it is.
I came very late into what I would consider my full stride as an officer. Two years as an enlisted man had given me a decent and down to Earth experience before accepting a commission. But I was still no more than an average junior officer.
Something happened somewhere between Captain and Major to open my eyes, so to speak. War. To use a sports analogy, I guess that I was more of a game day player than a practice player. Somehow I had absorbed enough through the military education system and experience to be able to do the job when it counted. My luck had it that I served with terrific examples of leadership and steady professionalism all around me too. I would have to say that I would define success for myself as having twice gone to war, and been able to come home and honestly say that I was able to accomplish what I was sent to do - when nothing in the preceding 19 years had not strongly indicated anything other than the ability to muddle through.
My sun is not set just yet, but it is starting the slide toward the horizon. Twilight approaches. I will almost assuredly not make the next rank before I retire. My number of years in the service has reached 24 and I am not the future. However, I am still the present. As I enter the twilight of my military career, I think I will be able to call it a successful one when it is all said and done.