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HomeAt Home & BeyondArmy Lieutenant Colonel Honored in Retirement Ceremony

Army Lieutenant Colonel Honored in Retirement Ceremony

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On July 29, 2022 Army Lt. Colonel Harvey (“Rusty”) Ravenhorst, a former Hernando County resident, closed one chapter of his life and opened a new one. After spending twenty-four years in the military, he retired surrounded by friends, family, well-wishers and fellow veterans. The retirement ceremony took place at VFW Post 9326 on Hernando Beach. Officiating at the ceremony were Captain Joseph Lanciano and Colonel Michael Schoonover.

Schoonover, who met Ravenhorst in 2005, remarked that, “Soldiers like Rusty are one step ahead of everyone else in strength, intelligence, knowledge and character.”

He went on to explain that 95% of a leader’s success is a direct testament to his character, explaining that, “you remain true to who you are while never trying to be someone else.”

In relating a humorous anecdote about Ravenhorst, Schoonover remarked that they were both deployed to Iraq in 2006, but within 48 hours, Schoonover was sent to live with the Iraqis while Ravenhorst stayed behind at Camp Liberty. However, his friend would sneak out to visit him and see how things were going.

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Another humorous incident took place when Schoonover went to visit Ravenhorst and his family while they were stationed in Germany. He came to dinner at their house and while there, Ravenhorst plugged a 120 volt plug into a 220 socket and blew out all his kid’s video games. When Schoonover returned to the United States he mailed his Xbox and Nintendo Wii to the Ravenhorst boys. Years later, Ravenhorst sold the games at a yard sale to Schoonover’s wife!

On a more serious note, Colonel Schoonover commented, “Retirement isn’t the end of the road; it’s the beginning of an open highway. This day is a loss for the army, but for you it’s a start on a new adventure.”

He then read a letter from President Biden, as Commander-in-Chief, which stated in part, “You represent the best of our nation and I join our fellow Americans in saluting your honorable service. I wish you happiness and success in your next chapter.”

For any military person, support of his or her family is vital. In recognition of this, Colonel Schoonover presented Ravenhorst’s wife, Norma, with a certificate for her service and sacrifices as a military spouse.

He also presented “Army Brat” certificates to the three Ravenhorst siblings−JR, 17 years old; Audrey, 13 years old; and George, 12 years of age. Schoonover remarked, “They have sacrificed as much for their country as their parents. They know what it means to pick up and make new friends. They know what it means to have their parents missing school plays, sports events, a birthday or a holiday. They know first-hand that being an Army brat can be just as difficult as being in the Army. They realize that they are the best reason their parents give a lot to the U.S. Army.”

In addressing the people gathered at the ceremony, Colonel Ravenhorst thanked some of his fellow soldiers that he had served with for their support, some who had come from as far away as New Mexico. He also thanked his relatives, including his parents who, unfortunately, are deceased.

In thanking his three children for their sacrifices, Ravenhorst stated, “Being a father helped me to become a better leader.”

In thanking his wife, he remarked, “Norma, thank you for being by my side these last few years. I appreciate the sacrifices you have made and I’m looking forward to our continued journey.”

While Colonel Ravenhorst was a student at the University of Central Florida, he joined ROTC. He went to Airborne School where he “jumped out of perfectly good airplanes,” training as a paratrooper. Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant.

He became an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer as well as a Logistician and Joint Military Planner for combating weapons of mass destruction. Later on in his career, Ravenhorst became an executive officer for a high-ranking general in the Department of Defense. He interacted with ambassadors and ministers of defense for various foreign countries.

“That was one of the most exhilarating jobs I’ve ever had in the army− observing senior levels of the Secretary of Defense, having discussions with the President, and four-star generals. It was eye-opening of how the U.S. government works and how policies are made.”

One thing you learn very quickly in the military is that you don‘t always get to have the job you want or be assigned to the places you want to go to. For example, Colonel Ravenhorst wanted to see more of combat, but the Army decided to have him train soldiers instead. The upside is that he got to spend more time with his family.

Being in the army taught him many lessons. For example, he learned about setting goals as he transitioned from one position to another. Being in Iraq taught him to always be ready.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” he stated. Another lesson he learned is to take a chance at opportunities, to jump at every opportunity that you’re given. And again, “You never know what’s going to happen.” What does Lt. Colonel Harvey Ravenhorst, U.S. Army (retired) plan to do now that his time is his own? Fishing, golfing? Maybe. But mostly, he’s going to spend quality time with his family and he’d like to give back to his community by mentoring and coaching young people. And, he plans to embark on a second career as a financial advisor. It’s a sure bet that whatever he pursues, he’ll do it with the same determination and dedication that he displayed in his military career.

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