Stellar Career Leads To First Class Induction

Colonel Scott Kimmell has seen a lot in his 30 year career in the Army. He has lived at 22 different addresses and had 9 different license plates. His children have attended 6 different schools.

But, along the way he has made hundreds of lifelong friends, and thousands of wonderful blessed memories. “Thank you Army for allowing me to be on your team, “ COL. Kimmell said.

“I didn’t have to serve, I got to serve in the Army, COL. Kimmell said. “I love the Army. I was blessed to be a member of the greatest team in the world, the United States Army, the ultimate team of teams. To every Soldier I have ever served alongside, thank you for allowing me to be on your team.”

“With service comes sacrifice, COL Kimmell added. “That sacrifice is not made by the Soldier, but by his or her family. And I am truly blessed to have an absolutely wonderful family, one that I do not deserve.”

COL Kimmell met his wife, the former Kelly Gibson of Charleston, in 1991 at Dallas, through Kelly’s basketball teammate at Texas Women’s University. They were married 14 months later in Charleston at the First United Methodist Church.

Both of his children were born on Army bases, Alex at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and Drew at Fort Hood, Texas.

Perhaps he was destined to be in the military. COL Kimmell was born at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, Illinois, and grew up in O’Fallon, Illinois, where his dad was in the Air Force. I grew up wanting to be a pilot, but my vision wasn’t up to par, COL Kimmell said.

He had plans to attend the University of Oklahoma, but during the spring of his high school senior year, his dad passed away. After high school graduation he enrolled in a local Junior College so he could stay home with his mom. He later enrolled in Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, so he could continue to be close to home.

That enrollment would set the stage for his future. He joined the school’s ROTC program and fell in love with the Army. I loved everything about being a Soldier, COL. Kimmell said. “I still do.”

Thirty years later he became the first person from Eastern Illinois University to be inducted into the United States Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), National Hall of Fame at a ceremony held on June 10th, 2016 at Brooks Field, in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Fittingly it was the first class of former ROTC cadets inducted into its Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame honors graduates of ROTC who have distinguished themselves in civilian or military service who have made significant contributions to the nation and history of the Army ROTC program.

Major General Christopher Hughes, commander of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, opened the ceremony by sharing his pride in the role each of the ROTC alumni played in developing leaders for 100 years. It is humbling to learn about the history of each inductee and what they had done with the training they had received at their respective ROTC programs, Major General Hughes said. “The more I read, the more I signed, I realized each of you and your families are doing everything that I would ever dare ask you to do. That is exactly why you are our founding class of the ROTC National Hall of Fame.”

General (Retired) Carter Ham, former commander of the U.S. Africa Command, was the keynote speaker for the event. “We are simply 326 representatives of 650,000 Army ROTC graduates, examples of what ROTC has done for our Army and for our nation for 100 years,” General Ham said. “Officers commissioned through ROTC bring a depth and breadth of experiences to the ranks which make the Army stronger.”

Included in the induction class were Generals Colin Powell and George C. Marshall.

During his distinguished career, COL Kimmell has served in a variety of command and staff assignments and has held leadership positions at every level to include platoon, company, battalion, and brigade commands.

He served as a tactical officer and then Executive Officer to the Commandant of Cadets, United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He served as the G3 Plans Officer and Secretary of the General Staff in the 4th Infantry Division and then as Battalion Executive Officer, 2D Chemical Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas. He was assigned to the Army Staff in the Pentagon as a Strategic Planner and then as Executive Officer to the Army G8.

From 2004 to 2006 he commanded the Newport Chemical Depot in Newport, Indiana, where he was responsible for the safety, security, storage and destruction of the nation’s stockpile of nerve agent VX. During his command the depot team initiated the destruction of the stockpile that was completed four years later without incident.

COL Kimmell also commanded the U.S. Army Environmental Command at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he was responsible for insuring training land areas and garrisons adhered to local, state, and national environmental policy and regulations while ensuring Soldiers had a land to train in and a safe place for their families to live.

He has served overseas tours in Korea and Iraq, and temporary duty assignments in Europe, South America, Japan, and Australia to name a few. He was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, in 2007 and 2008, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom where he was hand selected to serve as Chief of Operations, Energy Fusion Cell, which was responsible for rebuilding Iraq’s electrical and oil infrastructure. He was then selected as the Chief of Operations, for Multi-National Forces, Iraq.

He had three assignments at the Pentagon, two on the Army Staff and one on the Joint Staff. While on the Joint Staff he was responsible for advising the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, on all aspects of defense against weapons of mass destruction and building defense capability in support of the Department of Defense mission to counter weapons of mass destruction at home and abroad.

He closed out his stellar career at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, as Assistant Commandant of US Army, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear School. The school trains Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines in all aspects of defense against weapons of mass destruction.

During his career he earned numerous awards and decorations to include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and Bronze Star.

Scott Kimmell was the epitome of an Army officer and others strove to be like him, Brigadier General Maria Gervais, who served with COL. Kimmell, said. “He set the example in all he did and he made all those around him better. I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate, mentor or friend to have served with.”

Scott is truly a cherished friend from my youth and someone I’m blessed to still call my friend, childhood friend, Jim Soehlke, said. My family had moved into the city and Scott lived about two and a half blocks down the street from me, Soehlke said. “I can remember many games of turf football, wiffle ball and basketball. We were both competitors. A few 1 on 1 basketball games turned into wrestling matches but it never turned into a fight with punches. We would end up just laughing at ourselves.”

That’s the part of Scott that is so special, Soehlke, who took Scott to the airport for his first assignment in Korea, said. “He is a great competitor but he’s also a fantastic friend. He was as much about the team and his teammates as he was winning. I can’t think of a single person who didn’t like Scott growing up. I think these characteristics among others were key to his success as a military officer.”

Scott and I first met around 1969/70 when we were in Kindergarten, Michael McCarthy, another childhood friend, said. “From that moment on we have always been best of friends.”

Colonel Kimmell and I always enjoyed playing multiple sports together as young kids and well into High School, McCarthy said. “Scott was a good athlete when he was young and throughout High School, lettering in both Varsity Baseball and Golf. There were not many people that had more fun playing High School Golf together than Scott Kimmell, myself and our other good friends Brad Clare and Daruis Holmes.”

I remember those days like it was yesterday, but our friendship has always been much more than playing sports together, McCarthy said. “Scott was always a very loyal and dedicated friend. He was always there for you no matter the circumstances.”

As it happens sometimes, Scott and I lost touch on a regular basis when we were both in the midst of our careers and raising families, McCarthy said. “There were times when we may go several years without communicating except for seeing each other at a High School reunion but I think we both knew that we were always there for each other.”

After Scott’s Father passed away, Scott had a big role to fill as at the point it was pretty much himself and his mother, McCarthy added. “He had to grow up pretty quickly at that time and his mother still plays a major role in Scott’s life.”

McCarthy said that Scott has been a huge success in whatever he has done, but he has always taken care of his mother. “Our Families have always been close as well. Maybe the best way to put it is Colonel Kimmell has always been more than a best friend, he is more like a brother. His best years are ahead of him.”

COL. Scott Kimmell is a great American, Brad Clare, another longtime friend, said.

Clare’s father was in the US Air Force and was part of the Richards Gebaur AFB closing near Kansas City in 1977. The base was relocated to Scott AFB near O’fallon, IL where Clare met Scott Kimmell, when they were both in the ninth grade.

Scott and I had a love for sports and would play two on two games of basketball against really anyone that would play us, Clare said. “We loved Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Orlando Woolridge and Darryl Dawkins. We played basketball and golf together.”

O’fallon, Illinois, 15 miles east of St. Louis, is a place where every kid in American wishes they had grown up, Clare said. “It is a nice place to raise a family, “We had parents that loved us and we had some of the greatest friendships and crazy fun any human should be allowed to have.”

Clare, who attended COL. Kimmell’s induction into the ROTC Hall of Fame, said every American should bear witness to the professionalism, dedication and humility it takes to not only get in but to get out.” Scott gave a great speech in front of his peers and best friends and was able to thank everyone, Clare said. “He was very humbling with “WE DID IT” over tones.”

Scott’s passion was the Army, he loved it, Clare said. “It takes many, many years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice to work your way up to the rank of Colonel US Army,” Clare added.

“You always know you have a high rank when you visit the military golf course and see your name and rank on a reserved parking spot.”

Scott, dotted all of the “I’s” and crossed all of the “t’s” in the game of US Army and never looked back, Clare said. “He went straight into ROTC out of high school and straight into the Army after college.”

Remember the Army recruitment motto’s?, Clare said. “Col. Scott Kimmell has lived by these.” “Be All That You Can Be.” “Army of One.” and now “Army Strong.”

Scott, never had it super easy, Clare said. “After the sudden death of his father in 1982 just months before our high school graduation, Scott had some really tough times.”

Fortunately, Scott’s mom and dad had instilled great values and high expectations and the person that could have been a nobody, became the person that he is today, Clare said. “Scott’s a thinker, he’s very positive and in his mind he’s always calculating.”

In his mind, there’s always a way to accomplish a mission or goal, Clare said. “From our Alma Mater, Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois to Charleston, Arkansas. Your community has a real quality person and asset in Col. Scott D. Kimmell.”