I’ve used this photo collage around Veterans Day both as a header for this here blog and for my Facebook cover photo as well. I call it my “Career at a Glance.”
I’ve received a lot of kind feedback from people on this collage. I even made similar ones for other people.* I chose these photos of me as I passed through the officer ranks of the U.S. Army during my nearly 29-year career. There’s two of me as a captain because I spent an unusually long time as a captain before getting promoted to major. Here are the original photos and the brief story behind each. Click on any one of ’em to see it full sized.
Army ROTC Cadet, 1977:
This was taken at Fort Lewis, Washington at graduation from ROTC Advanced Camp. I’m third from the right on the next to the top row. We had great weather that summer. It only rained one day and it was the one day we had leave around July 4th. Our platoon produced one general officer that I know of, Maj. Gen. Megan Tatu, who as a cadet is standing in the front row second from the left.
Lieutenant,1980, U.S. Army Signal Center and Fort Gordon:
I’m not certain the occasion during which this photo was taken. But here’s a semi-educated guess. It may have been at the promotion to lieutenant general of the post commander at the time, Maj. Gen. William J. Hilsman.
Brand-New Captain, 1984, AFN-SHAPE, Belgium:
This is me and my dog, Esme. I’m sitting outside our apartment in the Belgian countryside about 20 miles or so from the office. My oldest son, Jonathon was born in Belgium some months after this photo was taken.
Captain, USAR, 1992, Camp Pendleton, CA:
This was taken during WOUNDED WARRIOR 92, an Army Reserve medical exercise conducted at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in Southern California. That’s Captain Me and Master Sgt. Jeanie West. We both worked for the public affairs office at the 63rd Regional Support Command at Los Alamitos, CA. Army Staff Sgt. Jim McGehee took this photo of us as we were sharpshooting Lt. Col. Stan Kensic’s rehearsal press briefing or some such thing. I remember laughing uproariously during the rehearsal with all of these folks plus Ted Bartimus, who was 63rd’s full-time civilian PAO. I’m pretty sure this is the first digital photograph I ever saw.
Major, 1997, AFN-Balkans, Bosnia:
This was taken outside the Armed Forces Network station in Tuzla, Bosnia. This was relatively early in the deployment, as I recall. In the photo with me from left is Capt. Shawn Jirik (now Colonel Shawn Woodbridge), Spec. Darius Sims, Spec. Jennifer Lopez (now Jennifer Lamb O’Cuinneagain, according to Facebook), and Sgt. Jennifer Braden. Shawn, Darius and I were Reserve Soldiers and the two Jennifers were active component broadcasters on loan to us for a few months from AFN Europe.
Lieutenant Colonel, 2001, Army Forces Central Command – Saudi Arabia:
This may have been taken in 2000. Hard to tell – it’s always summer in Saudi Arabia. Anyway, Gen. Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. Central Command at the time, paid us a visit. As a one-man PAO shop, I was doing all the photography for the event. By the time this photo was taken, I think I had room for just one or two more photos in the digital camera’s storage. Maj. Mike Downs, who went on to retire as a lieutenant colonel, took the camera from my hands and said “Let me take this. PAO’s never get their photo taken.” So Gen. Franks and I assumed the “grip and grin” position and Mike took the photo. That was a terrific assignment and people like Mike made it memorable and fun.
Colonel, 2003, Fort Benning, GA:
This one was a truly special occasion. My nephew, Andrew Kimes, went to the U.S. Army Airborne School at Benning as an ROTC cadet. When he was ready to graduate from the Basic Parachutist Course, my sister and Andy’s mom, Bobbi Jo, invited me to come down to his graduation and pin his jump wings on him. So she and I flew to Columbus, GA where we had both lived for a few months as REALLY little kids while my Dad was in his branch advanced course. I carried an extra set of airborne wings in my pocket so that I could remove mine from my uniform, pin my wings to his uniform, and then replace mine with a different set so I wouldn’t be out of uniform. This photo was taken after the graduation ceremony. Andy went on to have a great career and is currently a major and the acting battalion commander of a unit in Ohio. My sister was recently award a Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Otterbein University. I’m crazy proud of how they both turned out.
* The first one of these I did for my Dad:
Then I did one for Shawn Woodbridge:
And one for my younger brother, Jefferson Wolfe. Jeff is now serving somewhere in Africa in support of the Army’s Ebola eradication efforts there.