John M. Oberkirsch is promoted to colonel by Lt. Gen. Frank J. Grass, deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command, and his wife, Darlena, who is attaching his new rank insignia to his cap. (Bill Phelan photo)
ST. LOUIS - A Jefferson City Missouri Army National Guard officer was promoted to the rank of colonel in a ceremony Sunday during the Guard's Joint Commanders Conference in St. Louis.
With his wife, Darlena, assisting, John M. Oberkirsch received his eagle insignia from Lt. Gen. Frank J. Grass, deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command and the next chief of the National Guard Bureau.
Grass, who once served as Oberkirsch's commander, praised his leadership and service to the National Guard.
"Col. Oberkirsch is an outstanding officer who has done some great work for the Missouri National Guard," Grass said. "He possesses a great work ethic and a tenacious attitude to get things done, and he proved to need very little training or guidance from me. It really is an honor for me to promote him."
Acknowledging his friends and Family members present, Oberkirsch thanked them for supporting his military career over the years and recognized those in the military who helped him along the way.
"You have all helped me pace my career, form my values and have given me the skills to do my job and I wouldn't be standing here without you," he said.
Born in Milwaukee, Wis., Oberkirsch graduated from Webster Groves High School in 1985 following his family's move to St. Louis in the late 1960s.
Oberkirsch began his 23-year military career in 1989, receiving his officer's commission through ROTC at the University of Missouri at Rolla, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. Among his assignments were platoon leader in the Festus-based 220th Engineer Company, a unit he would later command. He also served as a plans officer and administrative officer for the 35th Engineer Brigade and as commanding officer of the 1140th Engineer Battalion. In 2000, Oberkirsch was named assistant professor of military science for the ROTC program at Lincoln University.
After being deployed to Guatemala in 2007 as part of a humanitarian mission, Oberkirsch was sent to Iraq for a year in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Today, Oberkirsch serves as director of manpower and personnel at Missouri National Guard Joint Force Headquarters in Jefferson City.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, an Iraqi Campaign Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, just to name a few.
Oberkirsch and his wife are the proud parents of three children.
He is the son of Mark and Jean Oberkirsch, of Hillsboro.
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