Friends and colleagues from across the Mission Command Center of Excellence and Fort Leavenworth said farewell to long-time MCCoE deputy director Thomas Jordan at a luncheon and ceremony at Fort Leavenworth’s Frontier Conference Center Dec. 18. Jordan officially retired from civil service Dec. 31.
Jordan was a 1969 graduate of Centerville High School and was named a distinguished alumni in 2010.
Jordan, who retired from the Army in 2007 at the rank of brigadier general, entered civil service as the Director, Current Force Integration Directorate (later the Capability Development Integration Directorate). He assumed duties at the Mission Command Center of Excellence in 2012.
Before presenting Jordan with the Army Superior Civilian Service Award, MCCoE Director Maj. Gen. Douglas Crissman took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of the occasion. “Today we have an opportunity to recognize nearly a half century’s worth of service,” he said. “Tom Jordan has touched our Army in a number of ways. He has impacted all of your lives to some degree or another or you wouldn’t be here today. He is a part of the institution. You can define institution as the Army, as the Combined Arms Center, as the Mission Command Center of Excellence, as the CDID [Capability Development and Integration Directorate], and he has shaped and molded a number of parts of our institution into what they are today.”
For his part, Jordan reflected on his career by framing it as a series of choices and referred to the famous New York Yankees catcher and manager Yogi Berra quote, ‘When you come to a fork in the road, take it.’ “How does that relate to what I’m talking about?” he said. “Forks in the road represent choices. And those choices will end up comprising your life.”
One of those first choices (after marrying wife of 47 years, Sheryl) would be to enlist in the Army in 1972 on “my terms” rather than take a chance at being drafted during the Vietnam War. After that initial enlistment, he returned home to Centerville, Iowa, and soon found himself at another crossroads. In deciding what step to take in his career he narrowed his focus to either football (with an eye toward coaching) or the Army. In considering football, he said, “What they used to tell us is ‘you’ve got to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it’s important.’ And that was the sort of thing that stuck in my head, because when it’s all said and done it’s a game and the Army was not. The Army was a profession. The Army was real. The Army was something that I felt like I could really do well with.”
And ‘do well’ would be an understatement. After graduating from Upper Iowa University and commissioning as an infantry officer, Jordan would rise through the ranks and hold senior command and staff positions throughout the Army. Of particular note were his assignments as the 71st Regimental Commander, 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard); assistant division commander (maneuver), 2nd Infantry Division; and deputy chief of staff for operations, U.S. Army Forces Command.
In 2007, when Jordan retired from active duty, he knew he was at another turning point, but recognized he wanted to stay a part of the Army team. “The choices that I made, it’s about the Army and it’s about being a part of something bigger than yourself. It’s important in a meaningful way to serve the country,” he said.
Although initially starting out in capability development at Fort Leavenworth, Jordan would close out his career as the MCCoE deputy director, using his position to mentor and invest in the human capital of the organization. This is what he see as his greatest achievement and something that will remain long after his departure.
“I think that is what makes the Army and these Army organizations, whether you’re active duty or civilian, so important. Because the legacy that you leave … those people are your legacy. Those people are the ones that carry on. Those people are the ones that continue to serve in the Army profession and to serve those organizations and those Soldiers out there. And that to me is worth a lifetime of service,” he said.
Jordan currently residents in Leavenworth County, Kansas, but says he frequently returns to Centerville to check on family.