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Retired SEAC John Troxell reflects on his service

Retired Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Command Sergeant Major of I Corps, John Troxell is proud of his service to the nation. Photo Credit: U.S. Army

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The Army made John Troxell.

"I would say that joining the Army was the greatest influence in my life," began the retired Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (SEAC). "Prior to that, I had no purpose, motivation, direction or inspiration to achieve or reach my untapped potential."

Growing up in Davenport, Iowa, Troxell was impressionable and always looking for others to learn from. In high school, he loved sports, particularly wrestling and football. But he also noticed something about some of the older kids he went to school with.

"I had no goals in high school," he continued, "until I saw other, older guys from my neighborhood who had come back from Army basic training or Marine Corps boot camp."

They walked with their heads held high and spoke with confidence. I told myself that I wanted some of that so I joined the Army."

Troxell enlisted in May 1982 in Des Moines, IA and soon found himself taking basic training at Fort Knox, KY.

"Once I got in, I adapted to serving quickly, enjoyed it, and knew I had made the right decision."

His decision allowed him to become an Airborne Ranger, serve in five combat tours, earn a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in strategic leadership, and summit the pinnacle of the enlisted ranks by becoming and serving as the nation's 3rd SEAC of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In looking back on his career of 37 years, 10 months and 29 days, Troxell credits two individuals for his accomplishments - his wife, Sandra, and First Sergeant Charles DeRosa.

"He was a Vietnam veteran who first saw potential in me to be something bigger than myself," explained Troxell, who added that DeRosa wanted to see him reach his potential.

"DeRosa was a hard but fair leader who truly cared about making me better.  Without his mentorship, lead by example attitude and professionalism, who knows where I would have ended up."

A former Command Sergeant Major of I Corps, Troxell is most proud of his service as the 3rd SEAC. He is also proud of graduating Ranger School as a non-infantry soldier and the opportunity to lead soldiers in combat on five different occasions.

These accomplishments aside, the greatest challenge Troxell faced occurred while serving as SEAC.

"A fellow E-9 filed an Inspector General complaint against me in which it was alleged that I was hostile and toxic," he explained. As a result of the complaint, Troxell was suspended from his position for six months.

"So many people told me I should retire and not go through the pain of the investigation. I knew that I had done nothing wrong, so I stuck it out. When the investigation was completed and I was reinstated, I finished my last two years with honor."

Troxell also pointed out to his fellow non- commissioned officers that they should be transparent in leadership, to lead by example by being present, performing and persistent, and to always be cognizant of their environment.

"And for those thinking of retiring, start preparing early," he advised, "and think about what you want to do and where you want to settle down."

Since his retirement on Dec. 13, 2017 and relocation to Lakewood, he founded PME Hard Consulting, an organization which provides leadership and human performance solutions for organizational excellence. He also serves on six different boards that support service members, veterans and their families.

"Please continue to support our military," concluded Troxell. "Even though we are no longer in Afghanistan and are continuing to draw down forces in Iraq and Syria, our troops will still be expeditionary and will continue to deploy to conduct security force assistance, deter malign influence and aggression, and ultimately fight and win if needed to preserve our freedom, homeland, and way of life."

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