A Career Viewed As A Leadership Laboratory: Three Decades Of Change In The Army

Mike Ivy


Mike Ivy grew up in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, along the Kentucky and Tennessee border with an older brother and younger sister. His father was a Baptist preacher and his mother became an English teacher late in life after earning a degree from Austin Peay State University. He met his future wife, Alice, at First Baptist Church when he was a sophomore in high school. He became interested in attending West Point, first by watching the march-on for the Army / Navy game on television, then through discussing the idea with his high school counselor, and finally, Karl Prunitsch, USMA ’58, an assistant coach on the track team, who reinforced the idea. He remembers R-Day as a blur and dropping his bag on the Man in the Red Sash’s shoe. At the Academy, Mike did well enough academically (listen for the story about how he earned Academic Stars), and he enjoyed the military aspects of the Academy, completing Airborne School at Ft. Benning and then CTLT (Cadet Troop Leader Training) at Ft. Polk, Louisiana. He served as Beast Cadre in the summer of 1976, when the first women were admitted to the Academy. As a Cadet, he found the Cadet Chapel to be a place of respite. In the spring of 1976, COL Hal B. Rhyne (USMA ’53), the Special Assistant for Honor, recommended Ivy as the Honor Captain for the Class of 1977, and the Honor Committee elected him, two weeks before the honor issue that rocked the class broke. In the spring of 1976, widespread plagiarism was discovered on an EE304 (Electrical Engineering) homework assignment. Mike remembers it as an exhausting time of high anxiety and personal loss for his class, resulting in members of the Class of 1977 being kicked-out or turned-back to the Class of 1978. He recalls learning important lessons during that experience, including how senior leaders responded to stress, and how classmates leaned on each other and learned lessons in forgiveness. Upon graduation, he commissioned into the Infantry and his first assignment was in 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry, in the 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Liberty Bell along the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) in Korea, which he recalls as a “tough environment” but a great training opportunity. Returning from Korea, he was married, transitioned to Ordnance, and took a Maintenance Company Command at Ft. Riley, Kansas, from 1979 to 1982. In 1985, he earned a Master’s Degree in Management at Georgia Tech prior to being assigned to the Tank Automotive Command, where he worked in procurement. Next, he completed Command and General Staff College and the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) before being assigned to Germany with the 3rd Armored Division and later the 1st Armored Division. He deployed to Kuwait with Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm as a Division Plans Officer with 3rd Armored Division, leaving his family (wife and three children) in Frankfurt. He felt that SAMS had prepared him well for his role as a Plans Officer. In 1993, he returned to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, and served as an OC (Observer Controller) for the Battle Command Training Program, focusing on Logistics and the orders process at a high level. In 1997, he took command of the 101st Forward Support Battalion at Ft. Riley, Kansas, and loved being close to Soldiers and having the ability to influence people. In 1998, he was assigned to NATO Allied Forces Northwest in England, and he deployed to Sarajevo. In 2000, he took command of the 43rd Area Support Group at Ft. Carson, Colorado. He describes his experiences on September 11, 2001, and the aftermath when the 43rd ASG was deployed in pieces. His final assignment in the Army was as the Vice Director of the Combat Service Support Battle Lab at Ft. Lee, Virginia, planning for the future of Army logistics. In 2004, he retired from the Army and took a job for Oshkosh Defense, serving there for 17 years. In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his West Point experiences, and his Army career. He recalls pivotal moments in his life and the leadership lessons he learned. He discusses the changes he witnessed in the Army from the 1970s to the early 2000s and how the organization turned, especially Gordon Sullivan’s CTC (Combat Training Center) concept that resulted in a culture shift in the Army, noting that CTCs allow us to “be honest with each other.” Finally, he reflects on what West Point means to him, stating that “it shaped me,” and “I am privileged to serve our country.”


conflicts Persian Gulf War
topics West Point History Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Women in Service Honor
interviewer David Siry
date 30 September 2022


name Mike Ivy
institution USMA
graduation year 1977
service Infantry / Ordnance
unit 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division; TACOM; 3rd Armored Division; 1st Armored Division, BCTP OC; 101st Forward Support Battalion; Allied Forces Northwest (NATO); 43rd Area Support Group; Combat Service Support Battle Lab
specialty Honor Captain
service dates 1977 2004