When Kevin Konken was at Hartington Public High School, he thought the biggest city he’d travel to was Chicago. Little did high-school-aged Konken know, he would soon travel all over the world with one decision.
In between his junior and senior year, Konken and few classmates decided to enlist in the army instead of college right after high school. He spent his first two years of of his four year active duty in Germany and then his last two years in Fort Hood, Texas.
After this first period he utilized the college fund from the army to start at the University of Texas at Austin and continued with army reserves while there. He graduated in August of 2000 with his bachelor’s degree in anthropology, not intending to go back into the army.
“I mentioned [reenlisting] to my mom and she was like, ‘Oh you are crazy, you did that already,’” Konken said. “But after 9/11 it was obvious; I’ve got to do something.”
Thus began the rest of his career. Up until now. Between 2002 and the present, Konken said he’s learned a lot about the world through his many experiences in the army. One experience being each of his deployments.
“I didn’t want to go but its like when you have something monumental in your life you are always glad you did it but you are never that excited going into it,” Konken said.
According to Konken he’s gained cultural perspective as well as the ability to look back on these experience with a fondness.
“Even though I lost coworkers and there were some downsides and traumatic aspects of it, I still feel like I grew from those deployments,” Konken said.
In 2005, Konken applied for a Warrant Officer position which he held for over half of his military career. This position put him in a leadership role and a role that helped him grow in maturity, discipline and accomplishment, Konken said.
Warrant officers specialize in their field which means when something goes wrong planning wise, that’s when Konken comes into play.
“I’m the guy that when things go wrong they kind of poke at me and say fix it,” Konken said.
In 2016, Konken also received his masters degree in business administration at Columbia Southern University.
After 24 years, Konken decided it was time for a change. He is using his saved up vacation time to revisit friends he has made over the years as well as rekindle relationships with family members.
He plans on visiting Hartington, or home base as he likes to call it, every few months to see his father and help around the house. During this time, he plans to continue primarily doing volunteer work and some consulting in logistics on the side.
He wants to encourage a military career for many reasons including world travel, free life experience and much more.
“The respect that you gain is just…you can’t even measure it, you can’t quantify that,” Konken said.