Beginning with Veterans Day in 2016, IBM U.S. Federal has published internally the profiles of some of IBM’s veterans and active duty service members.

This year, we’re going live – and I am proud and humbled to share with you the personal accounts of some of IBM’s finest.

Their stories are important, inspirational and quintessentially American. It is indeed our honor to recognize those who fight to protect and defend the freedoms wrought by citizen soldiers more than 200 years’ ago.

IBMers’ unique experiences and feelings about serving are particularly poignant reminders of what Veterans Day is all about. And because IBMers, like so many other Americans, believe that every day is veterans day, we’ll update this blog regularly and continue to share their stories with you.

THANK YOU, IBM veterans and active duty and reserve servicemen and women! Our gratitude runs deep.

~ Sam

Sam Gordy, general manager, IBM U.S. Federal

Sam Gordy

Lt. Samuel J. Gordy, U.S. Navy

On deciding to join the military: “I truly believe the adage that ‘Freedom is not free.’ My father joined the Army Air Corps at 18 in June of 1941 and flew a P-38 Lightening over Europe.  My grandfathers served in the Navy and Army during the Great War. There were Gordys on both side during the Civil War and in the Colonial Army during the Revolutionary War. The first of my ancestors to come to America served as a surgeon on the British expedition against Quebec in the French-Indian Wars. So there was a long history there for me to live up to.”

Military service: “I served two tours—six years—as an intelligence officer. I was commissioned through Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. My first tour was with Attack Squadron 86, the Sidewinders, aboard the USS Nimitz (I am still in touch with my skipper and a few others from that time). The second tour was at “an undisclosed location” in the greater Washington area; in a mere 72 years, I can tell you all about it! It launched me on what has become my life career.”

What’s on my mind on Veterans Day: “For me it is a time of reflection and to honor those who have served—both those known to me and those known but to God. While Veterans Day is a special time to do so, there are clearly times throughout the year when it hits me out of the blue—when you hear the national anthem or taps, when you see a disabled vet, and many others."

What I want people to know: “While Veteran’s day honors those who have served, never forget, of course, that there are so many young men and women actively serving every day. As we go about our daily routines, somewhere in the world a young soldier is taking fire from an enemy; a young airman is readying an aircraft for its next sortie; a young seaman is jumping to action to respond to an incoming missile threat on their ship; a young marine is patrolling a peaceful and yet potentially hostile city; and a young Coast guardsman is responding to a ship in distress.  All day, every day."

Keith

Lt. Brian Keith, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

On joining the military: It gave me the opportunity to get a great education with some of the nation’s best leaders and to see the world while serving my country.”

Military service: Brian is a 1990 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. A carrier-based flight officer, he spent nine years in the Navy before joining IBM in 1990.

What service means to Brian: “It means doing my part to help protect and defend our freedoms and our way of life.”

What he wants people to know: “People should pause, reflect and think about those who have given their lives, given time, made sacrifices to protect our country and way of life. It is a sacrifice.”

What’s on his mind on Veterans Day: “I reflect on my time in service and pay respects to those who have served. I also think about the fact I’m still contributing to my country through my job at IBM with respect to the war-fighting mission.”

Juliane Gallina

CDR Juliane Gallina, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

On deciding to join the military: “I was looking for an honorable profession, where I could get a good (free) education, learn a real trade and be challenged.”

Military service: Juliane served as an information warfare officer. After initial assignments in Paris and Hawaii, and a few deployments to the East Pacific, she specialized in space systems.  It led to a career in national reconnaissance systems.

What she wants people to know: “It’s the joy and satisfaction that come from being part of something bigger than yourself…being part of the mission.”

Juliane adds that the military includes people from all over our country and from all walks of life, who are united in a common purpose: “We pledge an oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States of America. This means we aren't working for any one person…we are unified, serving the people of the United States.  We are on the best team and working for the best boss…the American people!"

Bob

Lt. Bob Hoey | U.S. Coast Guard

Why he joined the military
“My parents instilled in me an obligation to be a good citizen, to serve others, and to give back to the people of the United States.”

A little about Bob’s military service
Bob is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where he earned a B.S. in mathematics and was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Coast Guard. He served seven years on active duty, including tours on the USCG Cutter Bittersweet, stationed on Cape Cod, Mass., and at the Search and Rescue Coordination Center on Governor’s Island, N.Y. While in the Coast Guard, he earned graduate degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and served his final tour as a math instructor at the academy.
 
What service means to Bob
“To me, it means postponing or sacrificing your personal goals in favor of helping to make the world a better place.”
 
What he does on Veterans Day
“I thank others for their service. It’s something I do often, but I’m particularly cognizant of it on Veterans Day.”

What he wants people to know
“I encourage young adults to consider spending a year or more in service to their community or country. We all have a debt to pay to those who came before us and created this great nation.”

 

Joe Cubba

Capt. Joe Cubba | U.S. Navy

Why he joined the military “As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a military officer. I joined Civil Air Patrol, the Air Force Auxiliary, at the ripe age of 13, and attained the equivalent of Eagle Scout in that program. In addition to what I’d always dreamed of it being, it also provided an opportunity to earn a college degree.”

A little about Joe’s military service Joe spent almost 10 years in the U.S. Air Force in the satellite operations field and celebrated his 18th birthday in basic training. He joined IBM following his discharge and severed ties to the military. “My office mate at IBM happened to be a Navy Reserve commander and he convinced me to continue my service in the Navy. I accepted a Navy Reserve commission almost 23 years ago, serving in a myriad of positions in the intelligence field.” Joe recently was promoted to captain and is the commanding officer of a Navy Reserve intelligence unit in Detroit that serves the European Command (EUCOM).

What service means to Joe “Living for others. My favorite speech comes from a book titled On Combat by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (retired), recently made famous in the movie American Sniper. I will try to paraphrase the speech in which he said, ‘most of society are decent, not capable of violence, and live their lives without harming anyone; they are sheep. Wolves feed on sheep without mercy. Sheepdogs protect the flock.’ I have always admired and wanted to be a sheepdog to serve the greater good.   

What he thinks about on Veterans Day “I think about those who served and sacrificed everything for our way of life.”

What he wants people to know “I once heard a speech made by a senior officer in the intelligence community that profoundly changed the way I understood servant leadership and I have tried to live by it every day since.  He used a Bible passage that simply states: ‘Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly.’”

Adm. Ray Spicer,

Adm. Ray Spicer, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

Why he joined the military: “What motivated me to join was what the services represent - pride in what they do, integrity, self-discipline, a can-do attitude, doing what's right - not easy - and a willingness to risk it all for the greater good. My grandfather was stationed on Guam when the Japanese captured the island and he served as a POW for almost four years. I observed my dad as a marine and was blown away by how proud he was to serve. I learned from him what service really means; it motivated me during my military career and continues to motivate me today.”

Military service: Ray served 31 years active duty. He was in Iraq after Sept. 11, 2001, and participated in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He had five command tours, captaining a 300-person destroyer and commanding an aircraft carrier strike group of 10 ships and submarines, 70 aircraft and 8,000 men and women.Ray spent one of his shore tours as director of the White House Military Office, where his main role was to ensure continuity of the presidency, providing evacuation, relocation and communications capabilities for the president and his family, and training potential successors in the event of a “bad day sort of scenario.” Ray says he’s humbled by the opportunity to serve his country. “It was 31 years of hard, meaningful work, with five command tours …and a hell of a lot of fun!”

What he does on Veterans Day: For Ray, it’s a day of reflection. He thinks about the sacrifices, particularly of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and the families who lost them, and the sacrifices families across the military – including his own – make every day in support of the military. He also routinely thinks about those vets dealing with physical and mental post-war or post-deployment challenges and helps them whenever he can.

What he wants people to know: “While you really have to experience it to fully appreciate the challenges and sacrifices of serving, most are happy, proud and honored to serve this great nation. That said, I've never met a vet who didn't appreciate a pat on the back, a fist bump, or a simple, 'Thanks for serving.'  They won't say it, but it means a lot.”

Deb

Commanding Gen. Deb Kotulich | U.S. Army

Why she joined the military “I entered the U.S. Military Academy at 18 to get an education and play soccer. As a cadet, I learned about leading soldiers and being a part of something greater than myself. When I graduated, I realized the tremendous opportunity I was about to embark on and never looked back.”

A little about Deb’s military service Deb has more than 28 years of both active and reserve service, with the last 20 in the Army Reserves. She has commanded at all levels from platoon to company, battalion and two brigade commands. Presently, she serves as commanding general of the 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), headquartered in Orlando, Fla. The command consists of 88 units and 10,000 soldiers across eight states in the southeast. Deb had two combat tours (2004 and 2007) in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.  [NOTE: Deb is deployed to Iraq as of this writing. Be safe, Deb!]

What service means to Deb“Honorable and selfless service is what I've seen from the innumerable soldiers and military members throughout my 27 years. These dedicated and courageous men and women consistently sacrifice to defend our nation and way of life. To me, service is both a privilege and an honor.”

What she thinks about on Veterans Day Deb says that Veterans Day is an opportunity to observe and thank the brave men and women, present and past who have fought in our nations battles. “My hope is that the millions of Americans who have never served do pause to acknowledge and honor those who have served on this one day.”

What Deb wants people to know Less than 1 percent of the American population serves in the U.S. armed forces. The state of global security is more unstable than it has ever been, and the demands placed on the men in women in our military are increasing.American employers’ support for the men and women in the reserve forces is more critical than ever. The U.S. Army never will go to war again without support from the Army Reserves. Employer support directly impacts the reserves’ ability to provide trained and ready forces. When members of the reserve lose that support, they risk being unable to provide for their families and their own well-being…and they leave service. The American people and America’s employers must continue to see that they are a part of a strong national defense through their unwavering support to the men and women of not only the active component, but the reserve and National Guard components as well.

Lukenbill

Capt. Francis “Luke” Lukenbill | U.S. Navy

Why he joined the military: I grew up in a small town in upstate New York that was very patriotic. Dad had served in the Air Force during the Korean War and I was always exposed to the values of service to country as far back as I can remember. I thank my parents for instilling these values in me. 

A little about his service: After graduating from the Naval Academy, I was fortunate to go to flight training in Pensacola, Fla., with follow-on training in Virginia Beach, Va., where I was designated an A-6 Intruder Bombardier Navigator. I was deployed several times to the Mediterranean, as well as the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf, flying A6 Intruders off aircraft carriers. I earned a master’s degree from the Navy Postgraduate School, followed by another deployed tour aboard the USS Forrestal.I taught calculus at the Air Force Academy, followed by a tour at the Navy Test Pilot School (TPS). After TPS, I joined the Vampires of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Nine, where we performed operational test and evaluation on a host of Navy and Marine Corps aircraft and weapon systems. I spent two tours at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) - one in Signals Intelligence – known as SIGINT - and one in COMM - for a total of 10 years. My final tour at NRO was as a major program manager for a satellite program. Between my NRO tours was a three-year tour in Naples, Italy, as the commanding officer of the Naval Air Mediterranean Repair Activity.

What service means to Luke: Service means giving of oneself in support of something bigger than us. In my case, that service is to the safety and security of our country.

What he thinks about and/or does on Memorial Day: Memorial Day is a day of reflection and gratitude for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. During that weekend, I make it a point to visit a local veterans’ cemetery to give thanks.

What else? Service in the Navy has been a great honor to me and has shaped my life and my role as an IBM client executive.
 

Dianne

Brig. Gen. Dianne Del Rosso | U.S. Army

Why she joined the military
Dianne’s maternal grandfather was a senior Army officer and her father was an Army officer - both with more than 33 years of service. She also has uncles and cousins who served in the Army and the Navy.“To pay for college, my parents sat the three girls in our family down and explained how we would need to help with scholarships if we wanted to go to private schools. My older sister and I both applied for and were fortunate to achieve four-year Army ROTC scholarships. I also received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.“When we were growing up, we had very close Army family and friends of the highest caliber and character. I knew that the Army teaches leadership and fosters autonomy at a very young age, right out of college. For both academic and leadership reasons, in addition to the mandatory four years of service to pay back the four-year ROTC scholarship, to my surprise, I ended up loving the leadership opportunities and professionals with whom I had the privilege to serve, thriving in the environment and staying a lot longer than initially planned!”

A little about Dianne’s military service
Dianne spent 11.5 years on active duty with varied leadership assignments in the field in the Army’s 7th Infantry Division (Light) as a platoon leader, when it was in Monterey, Calif., and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), as a company commander at Fort Campbell, Ky. She was selected to be a general's aide-de-camp, worked at the Army's Human Resources Command as an assignments officer and at Headquarters Department of the Army in the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics/G4. Since leaving active duty and moving to the Army Reserves, her leadership assignments have included battalion commander of the Army Reserve vessels at Fort Eustis, Va., and brigade commander of a deployment support brigade at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Dianne also has had key staff assignments at the joint strategic level at the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command in Norfolk, Va., and presently is on the Army staff of the deputy chief of staff for Logistics/G4 at the Pentagon. Recently, she was selected and confirmed for promotion to brigadier general and will be taking command of the 311th Expeditionary Sustainment Command in Los Angeles.

What service means to Dianne
“Dedicating your life and work efforts to something that is greater than yourself, for the betterment of others and organizations, is what it's about. I read the definition of heroism and, to me, true heroism is ‘remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.’ That’s what service means to me.”

What she thinks about on Veterans Day
Dianne says that it’s a special day to give thanks to those who have served, those serving in lands far away, and those who are doing so in high-risk areas to defend our freedoms.
“These are the people who own the responsibility and who would risk everything to protect our liberties and national interests - anywhere in the world. Our great nation has undergone much turmoil in the collective years from my grandparents’ generation to today - WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, Desert Shield and Storm (Kuwait/Iraq), OEF/OIF Iraq and Afghanistan - and my family has played a part in defending our flag in each conflict.”    

What Dianne wants people to know
“There are an awful lot of very intelligent, caring, empathetic, innovative, courageous and funny leaders among our military services. It’s a privilege and a calling to serve, and most service members do not take it lightly.” 

Marc

Major Marc Boswell | U.S. Air Force

Why he joined the military
Marc attended the Virginia Military Institute, a family tradition. “My family has a history of military service, and at VMI there is a mandatory commissioning requirement, so that's one reason.”  As a teenager, Marc became interested in various aspects of military history, including the social aspects of what constitutes collectivism, and growing up as the Cold War intensified called him even more to serve so that he could be a part of repudiating the Red Menace. “I was commissioned during the Cold War when the USSR was beginning to deploy advanced and destabilizing strategic weapons. After Desert Storm, the U.S. Air Force was reorganized and, along with the fact that my youngest child was born in 1992, it seemed like a good time to end my nearly eight years of active duty service and enter the Inactive Ready Reserve. “We all know how the military was drawn down in the 1990s. During Desert Storm, we were able to deploy more than a half million military personnel in theater, and still have the capability to wage two major regional wars.  After 9/11, we could barely muster 200,000 military members to engage in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and, candidly, I grew weary of reading about the hardships incurred by the active duty, which is why I decided to re-enter the active reserves, knowing I still had something to offer.”

A little about Marc’s service
Marc has 33 years’ commissioned service in the U.S. Air Force. From 1985-1992, he was an ICBM operations launch officer for the Minuteman weapons system. He served in the inactive ready reserve from 1992-2007 and volunteered to enter the active reserve in 2007. After assignments in cyber operation and base communications, Marc was deployed in 2009 to Qatar with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing (cyber squadron). Upon return, he took a permanent change of station at the Air Operations Center, 710th Combat Operation Squadron, at Langley Air Force Base, where he is the cyber lead for an embedded Air and Space Communications Squadrons unit.
In July, 2018, Marc was activated to U.S. Air Forces in Europe/Air Forces in Africa to lead the A6 Coalition Networks Section in building out connectivity to our NATO and European theater coalition partners. Marc believes that this is his last active duty engagement with the USAF, and plans to retire after 34 years of service in the spring of 2019.In December, 2016 Marc was activated to deploy to Air Force Central Command to be the A2 systems division chief, completing the deployment in August. Marc is a distinguished graduate of the Minuteman ICBM initial qualification training course and the communication officer's training course. His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with one OLC, Air Force Commendation Medal with one OLC, Meritorious Unit Award with one oak leaf cluster (OLC); Air Force Outstanding Unit Award; Air Force Combat Readiness Medal with two OLCs; National Defense Service Medal with one OLC; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, and Armed Forces Reserve Medal with two OLCs.

What service means to him
“The service is a calling, and I support an all-volunteer military. I believe strongly that western values, embodied by America's rich history, require a professional military to protect and defend them. I'm grateful to be able to serve after all these years and it keeps me young and engaged with the coming generations who will be tasked with the same stewardship.”

What he thinks about on Veterans Day
Marc says that he’s amazed when he thinks of the sacrifice of so many made before him. “Veteran's Day is not only for those who have survived; it is for those who didn't, and also for the many who seem to be forgotten, the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. And part of that informs my belief that a strong and engaged military makes the world safer and less likely to have to experience the terrible events of the 20th century.”

What he wants people to know
“People should always remember that, somewhere, a young person is doing a really dangerous, difficult and often thankless job, and never to take the sacrifices made by these young people for granted simply because within the rhythm of their daily lives they may not be reminded of it.”