By Greg Hunt—
A man with local ties has served this country in the Army the past 31 years. Fittingly, he earned the high rank of general the day before Independence Day.
Donald G. Fryc will receive his star during a ceremony at Fort Sill, Okla. July 3, 2013. His family base is northeast of Cambridge in Fish Lake Township. His wife, Michelle – a 1982 graduate of Cambridge High – and the Fryc clan will be among the crowd at the ceremony amid the Oklahoma heat.
Fryc’s father was 1st Sgt. Walter Fryc, and his mother was Betty Fryc. He began his Army career in 1982 as an enlisted soldier in an air defense missile company, moving up in the ranks to serve as a platoon leader in the 61st Air Defense Artillery Regiment in Korea by 1986.
After completing officer’s school the following year, Fryc’s first role as a lieutenant was in Germany with the 32nd Army Air Defense Command. After marrying Michelle in 1988 and with the family beginning to grow, more stops took him back to Korea, along with the United Kingdom, Hawaii and California.
After reaching Lieutenant Colonel, Fryc served two operational assignments for Operation Iraqi Freedom through the early and mid-2000s.
“Among the biggest challenges while serving in Iraq were executing complex, dangerous missions in combat while looking out for the welfare and safety of our soldiers and our families back home. Michelle did an incredible job as the ‘first lady’ of the battalion while providing graceful care and concern for over 250 families (approximately 600 family members),” Fryc said.
The world as a classroom
The opportunities for seeing the world over his career gave the Army officer unique viewpoints into leadership development, including taking courses at the Australian Defence College in Weston, Australia. Altogether, he’s touched soil on five continents and 35 countries.
“Those experiences were incredibly valuable in gaining a global perspective with the strategic security environment, building relationships with senior leaders from across the world, and gaining a deep understanding of their respective cultures,” he said.
Fryc listed some of his most memorable moments during his travels: “Playing three seasons on a German soccer team; representing my regiment on the Royal Artillery Officers soccer team while commanding a British Army unit in England; having my daughter perform at the Sydney Opera House in Australia; playing the Old Course at St. Andrews with my dad; and running the London Marathon with Michelle.”
Fryc earned his colonel promotion in 2007, working into the commander role of the 6th Air Defense Artillery Bridge at both Fort Bliss, Texas and Fort Sill. His present role is commandant of the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery School and chief of air defense artillery at Fort Sill.
Explaining his duties there, Gen. Fryc stated, “We’re responsible for the training, education, and leader development of all Air Defense Artillery soldiers and leaders (approximately 10,000 members). Also, I hold supervisory responsibility for the United States Army Air Defense Artillery School, with an annual throughput of approximately 3,000 soldiers and leaders per year – including 500-plus international students from 40-plus allied and partner nations.”
Explaining his feelings on reaching the rank of general is difficult. Fryc offered excerpts from his ceremony speech to try to capture 31 years of growth.
“I was made, instructed, informed, challenged, corrected – frequently, I might add – encouraged, inspired, and a witness to so many good things along the way. This moment is all about my debt and not what was deserved,” he wrote. “It is a debt that traces its origins to the most perfect example here on earth I could’ve ever have: my father, my first First Sergeant – surely smiling down on us today. Smiling less, I would hope, of the achievement, but more because of my continued efforts to honor him (in) all that I do and all that I am. A debt obviously extends to my mother, as well – a little closer to me this morning as I can still see the radiance of her Irish eyes on the smiling faces of my sisters.”
Fryc’s acceptance speech honors a long list of Army team members who inspired him. He saves a special salute to wife, Michelle, who kept the home fires burning strongly.
“How can I possibly say thank you enough to my family, to my beautiful wife, Michelle? Fifteen moves in 25 years, at least half of our marriage spent apart. Who knows how many thousands of miles flown and driven? The untold number of socks lost in the laundry, birthdays and anniversaries missed. As for our children, I’m forever indebted to you for your indescribable patience and understanding.”
After dutifully sending in his responses and information requests, Fryc left a closing salutation which can be shared with everyone: “Have a blessed day and an even better Fourth of July – for God has indeed blessed America!”