Nearly 30 years after Carl Brosky left his hometown to join the U.S. Army, he's home – for good.
Brosky retired recently as a lieutenant colonel after a career that spanned the globe, serving from Fort Bragg, N.C. to such troubled regions as Africa and Bosnia. All the while, the 45-year-old earned the respect of both his superiors and the soldiers under his command.
"He cared about the people he led. He treated us like family, like we were a part of his extended family," Army Master Sgt. Michael Stanbury said. "He was the epitome of a dedicated, caring leader."
For much of his career, he was part of the 528th Sustainment Brigade Special Operations (Airborne) based at Fort Bragg. For the final three years, he was assigned to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa with the same unit.
He opted to have his retirement ceremony at his place of worship: Plant City's First Baptist Church. The senior pastor, the Rev. Michael S. Lewis, praised him for his service.
"Thank you so much for your dedication to our nation, faith and your family," Lewis said. "You have proven to be a soldier worthy of honor. You're not just a soldier for our nation, you're a soldier for the Lord Jesus Christ."
Army Col. Tom Rogers, commander of the 528th Sustainment Brigade, presented Brosky with the Legion of Merit medal for exemplary service.
"It's a tremendous loss to the Army today," he said.
Brosky joined the Army when he was 17, shortly after his 1985 graduation from Plant City High. He served active duty for a time, then entered the Army Reserve while he obtained a bachelor's in political science at Florida Southern College while a member of the college's ROTC program. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant and served a total of 26 years in active duty and the Reserve.
Rogers said he got to know Brosky and his wife Patti while they were both captains at Fort Bragg. He was struck by Brosky's leadership style and Patti's efforts to reach out to military families who were often stationed far from home.
Rogers and other members of the brigade presented Patti with roses and a plaque for her support. The couple, married nearly 20 years, have two children, 14-year-old Olivia and 10-year-old Jack, who were at the ceremony.
Brosky plans to work in the investment field for Edward Jones now that he's retired. But he's not done serving the community.
He plans to stay active at First Baptist, where he is a deacon and both he and Patti are Sunday school leaders.
At his retirement ceremony, he called on others to serve their nation and community, be it as a soldier or close to home with charity or church work. He called on everyone to be a patriot.
"We need to take care that we don't squander what we have as there are others out there who would love to take what we have from us," Brosky said.
"It's a great time to be an American."