Town of Gordon native Josh Glonek was promoted to lieutenant colonel at the Pentagon on May 31 by Secretary of the Army Mark Esper. The promotion came exactly 16 years after Glonek graduated from West Point and became a commissioned lieutenant.

Since joining the Army, Lt. Col. Glonek has served four combat tours -- two in Afghanistan and two in Iraq -- returned to teach cadets at West Point and served with the Army’s historic 101st Airborne Division. He currently serves in Washington, D.C. as a speechwriter for Esper.

“I don’t even think I knew that speechwriter was a position the Army had, but it’s kind of one I fell into,” Glonek said. “It’s a break from what I’ve been doing for most of my career, which is the very tactical stuff. And it’s an opportunity to kind of use my talents, I guess, to write speeches that the Secretary of the Army gives, the top guy out there in the Army making decisions for the force. So it’s a pretty cool job.”

It also led to his high-caliber Pentagon promotion.

“For somebody getting promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, to be promoted by the Secretary of the Army is very, very rare,” Glonek said. “That’s why it was such a special experience for my family.”

Family members from Douglas County -- Glonek’s dad owns the bowling alley in Gordon and his wife’s family lives in Superior -- traveled to watch the ceremony.

Glonek joined the Army after graduating from Northwood High School in 1999. The world was very different then, he said. He watched the 9-11 attacks play out on TV in a West Point classroom.

“At that point, I never could have imagined how much not only my life, but really the course of the United States would change. And so we’ve been at war ever since then,” Glonek said.

Lt. Col. Josh Glonek poses with his family, left to right, daughters Faye, Jacqueline and Gloria and wife Dana at the Pentagon following a promotion ceremony May 31. (Photo courtesy of the Pentagon)
Lt. Col. Josh Glonek poses with his family, left to right, daughters Faye, Jacqueline and Gloria and wife Dana at the Pentagon following a promotion ceremony May 31. (Photo courtesy of the Pentagon)

“Guys like me who were just fresh lieutenants at the start of the Afghanistan War and then the Iraq War starting in 2003, had no idea that these wars were going to consume our entire careers. We’d be going back and forth fighting the same people over and over again.”

A husband and father of three girls, Glonek is proud to serve. The job has taken him all over the country and offered opportunities for education and retirement. It’s also involved repeated moves from state to state.

“It’s definitely a hard life, not just for me but my family as well, but we’re very committed patriots to this country,” Glonek said. “And we understand that we’re doing our part to try to keep the nation safe.”

The next move is already in the works. Glonek said he has been selected for battalion command. That promotion is slated for the summer of 2020 and will involve taking command of a 650-soldier unit in New York state.

During his service, Glonek has run into few active duty troops from northern Wisconsin.

“There’s so many opportunities that the Army provides, and I wish that more kids from that part of the state really knew what was out there, really knew what a career in the Army, or a career in the military, has to offer,” he said. “It opens up their eyes to other things that are out there in the world and it gives them an opportunity to serve their country and just to make a difference.”