The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Native son 'enjoying every minute' of Army life

 

August 5, 2018



FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Clovis native Lt. Col. Calvin Kroeger has reached new heights in the Army as he recently took over command of the 35th Engineer Battalion at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri in June.

In this position Kroeger said he is tasked with overseeing the daily activities to "provide for their health, welfare and morale on a daily basis" for hundreds of Army volunteers.

"Our primary mission is to inspire and transform civilian volunteers into disciplined and competent soldiers of character who embrace the Army values and are committed to serve the nation as soldiers for life," Kroeger said.

Kroeger said the total number of trainees under his tutelage varies throughout the year but can reach a peak as high as 1,400 during the summertime.

Calvin's father Mike Kroeger said he knew from an early age that his son was suited for the military as Calvin would dress in camouflage and construct guns out of PVC pipe.

"He was a hard worker when he was growing up," Mike Kroeger said. "He was a hunter and a fisherman. He was the youngest kid in his class when I took him to hunter safety school. He was 9 years old and he passed the first go around."

The Kroeger family is no stranger to military service as Calvin's father was in the Air Force and grandfather was in the Marines, which Calvin said inspired him to join the military.

Mike Kroeger said he thought the family history, "plus him watching too many Rambo movies," led Calvin to the Army.

Calvin Kroeger said he has many fond memories of eastern New Mexico, graduating from Clovis High in 1995. He said he particularly enjoyed the time he spent at his aunt and uncle's ranch in Tucumcari in the summer and on the weekends.

"We did a lot of eastern New Mexico festivities from branding cattle to baling hay and working there on the ranch," Calvin Kroeger said.

Calvin Kroeger's military career started at the New Mexico Military Institute following high school where he was initially commissioned in field artillery, though he later resigned that commission to attend West Point, where he graduated in 2001.

Stops at Fort Richardson in Alaska, Fort Polk in Louisiana, West Point as an instructor, plus two tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan preceded Calvin Kroeger's appointment to Fort Leonard Wood.

"He had a hard time over there in Iraq. He was like a cat with nine lives," Mike Kroeger said. "He didn't get any type of purple heart over there but he lost six of his men while he was over there. Three of them were right in front of him, in a Humvee right in front of him."

Gary Blair, a longtime family friend of the Kroegers, described Calvin as someone who is "down to Earth" and "gets along with anybody and everybody."

"It doesn't matter if you are a new recruit or whatever, he treats you all the same. Most colonels don't do that," Blair said.

With the first seven weeks of the new job under his belt, Calvin Kroeger said the transition has been smooth.

"(I'm) enjoying every minute of it," he said.

 

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