By Joshua Cohen
Vermont National Guard Public Affairs
Col. Randall Gates retired from the Vermont Army National Guard on Nov. 30, ending a 38-year military career.
Prior to his retirement Gates was the Director of Military Support.
Gates' career began in 1983 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Combat Engineer. Assigned to the 12th Engineer Battalion of the 8th Infantry Division, Gates spent his first five years of active service in, the now, former West Germany.
“I served for 11 years on the enlisted side and 27 as a commissioned officer, my younger brother was in the military, he encouraged me to join after I graduated from college and, I thought, okay, I’ll try this for a couple of years, well he got out just after I signed up, and I’m the one who ended up staying for a career,” he said.
In 1989, after a successful 2,153-mile hike of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, Gates joined the U.S. Army Reserve, continuing his career in the Corps of Engineers where he attained the rank of Staff Sergeant.
After receiving his commission from the California Military Academy in 1993, Gates served as Commander of Bravo Company, 579th Engineer Battalion, California Army National Guard.
In 2001, Gates moved to the Green Mountain State. Transferring to the Vermont National Guard, Gates was placed in command of the 131st Engineer Company. His subsequent command level postings included Head and Head Quarters Company of the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) and the 15th Civil Support Team.
“I’ve been a lucky person to find myself in a lot of situations that have propelled my career forward, there have been so many wonderful things that have happened over the past 38 years,” Gates remarked.
Gates’ overseas deployments include a construction project in Honduras, one year in Afghanistan from 2003-2004 as an embedded engineer advisor, and an additional 12-month tour in Afghanistan with the Afghan National Security Forces Development Assistance Bureau from 2009-2010.
Prior to his tour in Afghanistan, Gates was the State Family Programs Director from 2005 to 2009. Gates later served as the Director of Military Support from 2013 to 2015. After a three-year command tour with the 15th Civil Support Team, Gates resumed his position as Director of Military Support in 2018.
“In the last ten years I’ve been involved in domestic operations, we are warfighting professionals and, domestic operations are something other than warfighting although no less important,” Gates said.
Among his 18 medals and ribbons, Gates was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Humanitarian Service Medal and NATO Medal.
Gates has a substantial military education comprising: the Engineer Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, Civil Support Skills Couse, Anti-Terrorism Level II Course, OPSEC Level II Course and the Nuclear Defense Proliferation Course. Notably, Gates attended the Leadership in Homeland Security Course at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.