Local man selected to become general
A Maynard man is set to become one of four brigadier generals in the Minnesota Army National Guard.
Col. Kevin Gerdes has been selected to be promoted to a one-star general in the coming months after serving for 32 years and holding many key positions, including the executive officer and commander at the battery, battalion, and brigade levels.
Gerdes, a graduate of Maynard High School, said he will become the deputy commanding general of the 34th Redbull Infantry Division at the division headquarters in Rosemount and will begin his new assignment July 1.
He said the promotion process takes several years as he first had to complete a physical and application packet and then waited to be considered and approved for a certificate of eligibility for promotion. He was finally approved in January 2011.
Ironically enough, after enlisting in 1979 at 17, Gerdes said he never intended to make the military his career.
Gerdes played high school athletics and was a leader in many organizations so the military seemed like a sensible option for him at the time.
"Part of it was you are entering your senior year and wondering what the future is going to be," he said. "There was something about the challenge and opportunities and to find something I might be able to help launch into my adult life after high school."
Shortly after Gerdes joined, he attended St. John's University and received his commission as a second lieutenant in 1982 through the ROTC program. He then spent the next 10 years serving in Montevideo in many capacities.
"I always committed to myself once I wasn't finding satisfaction in what I was doing that I would leave," he said. "So far, I haven't found that moment yet, there has always been challenge and meaning in everything I've done."
In 2003, Gerdes was assigned as commander of the 1st Battalion 151st Field Artillery. By 2004, Gerdes was serving as the commander when his unit was deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The battalion split up with one portion of it serving as military police and training Iraqi police in Baghdad, while Gerdes and the other half were stationed north of Baghdad at Camp Taji where Gerdes was assigned as the mayor of the coalition base.
Gerdes is currently pursuing a doctorate of leadership at the University of St. Thomas. He is halfway through with it and is unsure when he will complete it. He said he doesn't know how long his dissertation will take.
Gerdes has been serving as the chief of staff for Minnesota Adjutant General Richard C. Nash and works at the Minnesota National Guard Headquarters in St. Paul.