I am a retired two-star general having spent 35 years serving across the globe in numerous leadership positions. I finished my career performing at the highest levels of the military working for and advising a four-star member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As the National Guard’s Director of Strategy, Policy, Plans and International Affairs, I was responsible for the national-level development, oversight and integration of National Guard strategy, policy, and plans within the offices of the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and 54 States, Territories and District of Columbia. I also managed the Secretary of Defense’s National Guard State Partnership Program encompassing over 70 international partnerships.
I have held the positions of Deputy Director of Operations for Northern Command responsible for the Defense of the United States and Director of Operations for the Air National Guard supervising the execution, training, and mobilization of over 100,000 airmen, 88 Wings, and 1200 aircraft. I am an Air Force Top Gun pilot with over 3300 hours flying the F-4 and F-16 and served throughout the world, leading at every level of conflict, to include combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan (“Donnimac” is actually my fighter pilot “callsign“).
I am a collegiate tennis champion, second-degree black belt in Kenpo Karate and a certified fitness trainer. I also hold an undergraduate degree in Computer Science at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) and a Master’s degree in Diplomacy (International Conflict Managment) from Norwich University. I am happily married with three beautiful children.
My humble American background began as the great-grandson of a Scottish immigrant. An immigrant who looked to America for opportunity and success. A better life than from where he came. People much like my great-grandfather built our nation. Their incredible stories of survival, heartache, despair and success is a testament to the type of individuals, their dedication, and persistence. It was a tough life that relied on oneself and the community to endure.
Hard work was a given with daily survival at the top of the agenda.
What resulted was a resilient, accountable and motivated breed that shaped our American experience. A rich tradition of immigrant labor, strenuous work and bitter existence developed a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and “just get it done” culture. An American culture that cannot be lost.
Blessed with loving parents, I had a very pleasant upbringing. My father carved out a living through hard work, risk, and sacrifice. His grandfather passed down to his father and then to him an ethic of “hard work creates success.” My mother was no different in her dedication to the family and difficulty raising eight kids (good Catholics). Both my parents instilled in us a responsible, accountable and pragmatic philosophy.
A grounded sense of who you are but confidence in what you can achieve.
My parents routinely reminded us that success is not given but earned and that you are answerable for your actions and bound to your family, friends, and country. Daily common sense, compassion, and a little humility were paramount as routine logistics, school and squabbling required patience and purposeful discipline – no time for whining or BS – just get it done!!
It was this background, upbringing, and experience that shaped and formulated my practices, thoughts, ideas, and beliefs — a uniquely American one. I hope to use this experience as a vehicle for dialogue and exchange in describing and most importantly, reaffirming traditional America.