PHOTO: Ralph Robovsky, a former Monticello resident and 1982 MHS graduate, was recently promoted to Colonel within the U.S. Army. Robovsky has been in the service for 27 years. (Photo submitted)
According to former Monticello resident Ralph Robovsky, “fewer than 1 percent of all (Army) officers ever make it to the rank of Colonel.”
Well, now he falls under that class.
Robovsky graduated from Monticello High School in 1982. Upon graduation, he attended the University of Iowa, where he joined the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps).
“I was looking for some financial help with college and the military seemed like a way to help my family pay for school,” he stated. “Little did I know I would still be in (the Army) 27 years later.”
Robovsky originally joined the Air Force, but later decided to enlist in the Army.
“I wanted more opportunities to lead soldiers, and the Army gives you plenty of opportunities,” he said.
Throughout his military career, Robovsky has been able to move up the ranks. Some of his assignments include platoon leader, company commander, battalion commander and now colonel. Under this prestigious rank, he’ll be the G4/Director of Logistics for the Iowa National Guard.
“Getting the rank of colonel means a lot to me,” offered Robovsky. “It means the General Officers, whom I work for, have confidence in me to take on positions of greater responsibility and authority.”
The promotional ceremony was held on Dec. 7 at Camp Dodge in Johnson, Iowa. Under his new job, Robovsky will be responsible for “oversight and management of all Iowa Guard military equipment, as well as logistical support for the Iowa National Guard.”
Having charged through the ranks over the years, Robovsky admits he’s had mixed feelings about his career, good and bad.
“On the positive side of things, I’ve seen some amazing things and had some really great opportunities to lead men and women and I’ve had some success doing it,” he said. “Being promoted to Colonel is a combination of being successful in every single position I’ve had in the Army as well as some luck.”
He added that being in the service as long as he has, almost 30 years, is rare.
“Most people, even those that are successful, don’t usually stay in the military for so long.”
The downside, Robovsky offered, has been missing his family. He said there have been birthdays, anniversaries and his kids’ activities that he’s missed over the years.
“Soldiers give up a lot when they put on a uniform but so do their families.”
Robovsky has served both stateside and overseas during his career. He was deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom from June 2006 through August 2007. He was stationed at Joint Base Balad, about 50 kilometers (or 30 miles) north of Baghdad.
“I was the Support Operation Officer for a Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. My team was responsible for the accountability and distribution of all logistical supplies from Baghdad north to the border with Turkey, as well as all maintenance operations from Balad South to the Kuwaiti border,” explained Robovsky.
He was in charge of 1,100 soldiers and over 900 civilian contractors during that stint. He also spent time working closely with the Iraqi Election Commissioner and was ultimately recognized by the United Nations for the work he did. Just another feather in his hat.
To add to his list of career accomplishments, Robovsky has also been selected to attend the U.S. Army Resident War College in Pennsylvania during the 2014-15 academic year. Upon graduation, Robovsky will have earned a master’s degree in strategic studies.
“I wanted to go to War College because it’s a chance to interact with some of the brightest political and military minds in the world,” Robovsky stated. (He added that there are international students who attend as well.) “I’ll get the chance to study large scale strategic issues that affect the world today as well as learn about major strategic decisions from history and how those decisions (good and bad) were made. And I’ll get to do so in an environment where the instructors, students and guest speakers are some of the people we read about in the news every day. It’s just an incredible opportunity!”
Robovsky explained that any Iowa military officers who are ranked lieutenant colonel or colonel have the opportunity to apply for War College, if they meet certain pre-requisites: successful battalion command and overseas deployment. He said your application goes before a board made up of General Officers where “they create an order of merit.” The number one person on that list is then awarded the opportunity.
With so much on his resume already, Robovsky said just being in the Army alone has done so much for him.
Aside from his service to this country, he also maintains a civilian job at a Fortune 200 company, working as a human resources executive.
“My time serving in the Army has given me so many opportunities to strengthen my leadership skills that I wouldn’t be where I am today in my civilian role without that development, and my civilian employer has also benefited.”
When it comes to his time in the military, Robovsky offered, “It’s really about committing to something greater than myself. It’s about service and sacrifice and giving back to my country. Every time I put on my uniform, I still get a sense of pride that I have been able to serve in such an incredible organization with such incredible people.”
Robovsky is the son of the Bill and Sharon Howie and Ralph Jr. and Eileen Robovsky.