- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 16, 2003

The war on terrorism has resulted in quite a turn of events for retired Lt. Col. Jamie Sullivan. To fully understand his story, we need to go back a little ways.
Col. Sullivan graduated from college in 1977 and was accepted into Army Officer Candidate School. He chose field artillery, a branch of the combat arms, as his area of concentration. A charismatic fellow with a competitive nature, he proved to be a natural leader of men.
In the early years of his career, he performed all the important jobs a young field artillery officer needs to in order to advance in the profession. He served in the line as a fire direction officer, executive officer and battery commander. He also served in staff positions advising maneuver battalion and brigades in the use of supporting artillery fire.
During this time, Col. Sullivan and virtually everyone else in the military were facing the Cold War Threat. Training exercises and war games were designed to defeat the Warsaw Pact in Europe. They prepared for the battle that never came.
By 1985, Col. Sullivan took a temporary hiatus from the combat arms. He had married a week before starting his military career and by now he and his wife, Debbie, had three daughters. By taking a job as an Army Recruiting commander, he was able to move his family back home to Massachusetts and pursue other duties to advance his career.
In 1988, the Army sent him back to college to complete his master's degree in journalism. In 1989, he began utilizing his new skills by accepting a three-year assignment to create advertising for the military.
But in 1991, he got new orders. Based on his track record as a field artillery officer, he was selected as one of only 1,000 officers who regularly attend resident Command and General Staff College. During the next year, he earned the equivalent of a master's degree in war tactics, mastering his specialty in field artillery.
When he completed the program in 1992, he was separated from his family to apply his skills in South Korea for a one-year tour. Col. Sullivan was the operations officer who oversaw every activity of an 800-man battalion. Every day, he and his men prepared to go to war. But war never came.
When his tour concluded, Col. Sullivan's priorities began to change. His daughters were getting older and college wasn't far off for the two oldest, then 15 and 13.
He wanted to give them the best opportunity to prepare for college, so he became a public affairs officer at the Pentagon, allowing them to settle in and excel in their studies at their suburban Virginia high school.
A few years later, when his two oldest girls were making college decisions, Col. Sullivan and his wife sat them down and talked it over. On a military salary, he had not been able to save much for their education, but his daughters solved the problem. The oldest was accepted into West Point. The second would attend the University of Virginia on a ROTC scholarship.
In 1999, Col. Sullivan retired from the military and became a communications executive with a large corporation. He and his wife were able to stay in the area and buy a bigger, nicer home. They delighted in watching their daughters progress through college and into their careers.
Then the terrorists struck America on September 11, 2001.
Today, Col. Sullivan's oldest daughter is a first lieutenant serving in Afghanistan. She is an Army combat engineer in the 18th Airborne Corps, proudly using her skills to rebuild roads and bridges and water-purification plants. She is enjoying excitement, adventure and accomplishment just as her father once did.
His second daughter is serving a four-year commitment in the Army. She recently graduated from college and has begun her Army career as a second lieutenant in the Transportation Corps. One month ago, she was deployed to Kuwait. She has been working nonstop in preparation of war.
And while Col. Sullivan is living the good life in America in relative comfort and safety, he knows his daughters are living in discomfort and danger in two very unsettled parts of the world. He knows they face more danger than he, a soldier who was highly trained in the science of war, ever faced in 22 years of service.
When his daughters were young, he told them a woman could do anything a man could do. He admits he wasn't sure if he believed his own words when he spoke them then. But he believes them now.
As I said, the war on terrorism has resulted in quite a turn of events for retired Lt. Col. Jamie Sullivan.

TOM PURCELL
Tom Purcell, a Pittsburgh native, is a free-lance writer living in Alexandria, Virginia.
www.TomPurcell.com

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