On September 11, 2001, Maj. Joel Allmandinger was visiting his parents in Tehachapi, California, with his wife and two children. He was on terminal leave after eight years on active duty as an Army Aviation Officer and a Blackhawk pilot. The 1993 graduate of West Point was ready to be a civilian. He is a strong advocate of free enterprise and was ready to go to work for a Fortune 500 Company and start on the road to the top of corporate management.
Then he heard the horrible news from New York, from the Nation’s Capital, from a field in western Pennsylvania. The nation he swore to defend was under attack just as he finished eight years of peacetime service. It was nearly a week before regular airline service was restored. On September 16, Allmandinger and his family flew home to Macungie, Pa. As soon as he arrived, he drove to Fort Indiantown Gap and signed up to serve in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
Allmandinger began his civilian career and is on the path he sought. When he left for this deployment, he was a Key Account Executive for the Kellogg Company, one of the largest food producers in the world. He is responsible for a significant part of Kellogg’s business with Giant Food Stores in Pennsylvania, an account worth tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue for Kellogg. He plans to return to that job when Task Force Diablo’s deployment ends in January.
During his tour in Iraq, Allmandinger served as Executive Officer for Task Force Diablo. He flew Adder missions weekly, attended the many short and long meetings that go into running an aviation battalion, and worked every day until crew rest requirements forced a day off. As executive officer, Allmandinger was in command whenever the commander was flying and when Perry was on R&R leave.
The major’s day begins before 0600 hours with a long morning run or bike ride followed by weight training in the gym. Allmandinger was on the bicycle racing team at West Point and has won running races here and in Iraq, including the 15k Boilermaker run in July. He also was the first finisher to both ride and run in the Task Force Diablo Biathlon in November. After his workout he faces a full day of meetings, crises, last-minute changes, and problems resolved. Every day is packed with activity through early evening and sometimes well into the night. This is Allmandinger’s second deployment. He served in Kosovo in 2005-6. He also must find time to fly in addition to his other National Guard commitments and balance all of this with a demanding job, family life, working out and training for bicycle racing.
Deployments are not the best plan for career advancement, but he decided more than nine years ago that he would do his best to keep his life in level flight whichever way the wind blows.