Serving students and country

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 3, 2003

Lyle Superintendent Jerry Reshetar has recently been promoted to Chief of Staff for the 8th United States Army, making him one of only 25 to 30 major generals in the U.S. Army Reserves.

For 34 years, Reshetar has worked simultaneously in education and the military. The experiences have been rewarding, he said, and he finds he still has a passion for both.

Reshetar is currently a deputy commanding general of the 19th Theater Support Command in Daegu, South Korea. Once his promotion takes effect, he will be located in Yongsan, South Korea.

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Reshetar said he probably will not start in his new position until September, but that depends on whether President George W. Bush and the Senate approves his appointment and on the situation in the Middle East.

"There's a lot of dominoes," Reshetar said.

Reshetar has been with the reserve unit for almost three years and it has since been called to active duty.

In his current position, he works with logistics and makes sure food and supplies go to people at the right time. He also works with subordinates of the 19th theater support command that are located in the United States.

He travels to South Korea three to four times a year for two-week stints.

And all the while presides over a school of more than 260 students with the help of Principal Royce Helmbrecht, teachers and staff.

"I end up with the best of both worlds everyday," Reshetar said. "I'm still in education. I see children everyday. My passion for the military still remains."

In his new position, Reshetar will oversee six brigadier generals, each of whom specialize in an area, such an intelligence or operations.

"Together we have to orchestrate a plan," Reshetar said.

Reshetar joined the Army Reserves 34 years ago, the same year he got his first job in education and married his wife, JoAnn. His father, Harry Reshetar, had served in the Army in World War II, but he wasn't the reason Jerry Reshetar joined.

"Rather than get drafted, I just joined," Reshetar said.

While in basic training, Reshetar realized the military was important to him.

"I discovered I truly enjoyed the military and wanted it to be a part of my life in the future," Reshetar said.

Reshetar said he has also enjoyed educating children and wanted that career as well.

"The two have been a good fit for me here in Lyle," he said.

Reshetar said moving up the ranks in the military has never been a goal.

"I was thrilled when I got promoted to captain," Reshetar said, with a chuckle. "I thought I hit my limit."

But he said he enjoyed working in the military so much that he put his "heart and soul into everything (he) did.

"If you're truly passionate in what you're doing you're going to succeed," he said. "You just have to find out what that passion is."

Keeping students informed

With the current situation in Iraq and in North Korea, Lyle students sometimes ask him about his take on the situation. Reshetar also speaks periodically to the current events classes.

"I provide them with briefings with what is going on worldwide," he said.

Media reports have reported that South Koreans no longer want the U.S. military in their country, but Reshetar said South Koreans are not hostile toward the U.S. soldiers.

He said he think South Koreans are feeling pride in their country, more than any ill will toward Americans.

The situation with North Korea is complicated, he said.

"There are some tensions because of North Korea pushing for talks with Washington," Reshetar said.

North Korea wants to talk with the United States, but so far the U.S. government is speaking with Russia and China to get their take on the situation.

He said South Koreans want a unified Korea, but want to remain a free society. While South Korea's economy is booming, North Korea's isn't.

"Economically North Korea is suffering," Reshetar said. "Transportation and power systems are close to non-existent."

If the countries did come together, it would put a huge strain on the South Korean economy, much like Germany's reunion hurt West Germany. To prevent that from happening, other countries would need to support Korea in order to prevent that from happening, Reshetar said.

"It would be a world economic event," he said.

Time management at its best

Reshetar participated in the Bosnia peace mission for eighth months in 1995. During that time he took off work from his teaching job in St. Ansgar, Iowa, where his still lives.

He leaves for South Korea for two weeks on March 11.

The traveling can become demanding, but good time management helps him from being overwhelmed.

Without understanding bosses -- he will have to attend the next school board meeting by telephone -- and a reliable and hardworking staff, his dual life would be much more difficult, he said.

The hours he puts in at school and doing military work isn't an issue for him.

"I always tell people I can't believe they're paying me to do this," Reshetar said.

Cari Quam can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail at