Mt. Pleasant native takes command of armored brigade
Growing up in the Mt. Pleasant area helped Col. William Chlebowski prepare for the challenging life of an Army officer.
Chlebowski, 44, is the new commanding officer of the 177th Armored Brigade at Camp Shelby in Mississippi.
“I envision Southwestern Pennsylvania as a small blue-collar area with a great work ethic,” he said. “It certainly was what I learned growing up.”
Among the things that have helped him are the “field skills” — living outdoors — he learned growing up in the Mt. Pleasant area.
“(I got) used to being out in the woods,” he said.
Chlebowski was born in 1969, son of Ed and Virginia Chlebowski and was raised in the family home on Reservoir Road in East Huntingdon Township, very close to the Mt. Pleasant Borough line. His father, 89, is a veteran of World War II, serving with the U.S. Second Army in Europe.
Chlebowski said when he was young, he had a Daily Courier paper route.
He spent his entire youth living in East Huntingdon, going to Transfiguration School in Mt. Pleasant through the eighth grade before going to Southmoreland High School, graduating in 1987. From there, he went to Valley Forge Military Academy for two years, graduating in 1989 and earning a commission as an Army officer.
He was active in the National Guard, serving with the 110th Infantry in Greensburg.
He completed his college degree at the University of Pittsburgh in Johnstown in 1991 and then went on active duty.
“Since I got my commission, I've been all over the planet — Korea, Ft. Bragg (North Carolina,) Ft. Hood (Texas,) Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. He also served at Ft. Polk in (Louisiana.
Earlier this month, he took command of the 177th Armored Brigade, a part of the First Army. The mission of his brigade is to mobilize, train and deploy National Guard and reserve units before their deployments, then, when they return, prepare them for demobilization.
He said the National Guard and Army Reserve units fall under his command as soon as they are activated under Title 10.
Chlebowski said the only difficult part of the profession he has chosen is the separation from his wife, Leslie — originally from Richmond, Va., and son, Cole, 12.
“That's hard. I love the Army,” he said. “For my wife, it's harder than for me.”
One important thing about the Army is the people, according to Chlebowski.
“What it comes down to is the people you are with,” he said. “Now only one percent of the population is going to fight. All are volunteers — just great people coming together.”
Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-626-3538.