Fort Bragg, N.C. –
Maj. Gen. David Conboy, U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) Deputy Commanding General, Operations, retired June 23 after more than three decades of service in the U.S. military.
The ceremony held at USARC Headquarters, Fort Bragg, N.C., honored Conboy for his impact on not only the Army Reserve, but the nation and its allies as well.
Conboy credits his success to family and mentors who have provided motivation, inspiration, and guidance when faced with unexpected adversities.
“Throughout my career there have been different jobs I didn’t want to take, but what I found out was that the job I was in was the right job for me at the time,” Conboy said of his military career. “As the Deputy Commanding General for 8th Army in Korea — I thought my career was over, this was something I had no knowledge or experience about.”
Like many Soldiers, Conboy dug deep to conquer his personal fears and misgivings, then continued the mission to the best of his ability.
“In the end it was one of the most – if not the most – rewarding experiences because I was learning something new,” Conboy said. “I was contributing in an area of the world that had a very important mission.”
One of Conboy’s greatest, constant sources of inspiration and motivation has been his wife, Karen, whom he met while working at an amusement park in Buffalo, NY. Karen still recalls the moment with great fondness.
“I was 16, he was 18, and I was gaga for him,” Karen said. “I still have my diary from back then and I wrote: ‘David Conboy is so cute, I wonder if he likes me as much as I like him.” However, it wouldn’t be until years later, when Conboy was a Captain with the Army Corps of Engineers, that the two finally made a connection thanks to a mutual friend. “I remember talking with a friend of mine who told me, ‘I’m glad I saw him at church and told him to call you!’ … A year later we were married.”
The marriage, and the responsibilities it brought with it, have had a profound impact on Conboy and his military career.
"As a young officer, I certainly did my best, and I worked hard,” Conboy said. “But I think when I got married, had a mortgage, had kids, there’s a certain seriousness that you have to develop — having that responsibility, having that support, having someone right there that you never want to never let down, helped embolden me, helped encourage me, to basically become the best person, best officer, that I could be,” Conboy said. “I never would have achieved that level of self-confidence, self-awareness and sense of responsibility if I didn’t have someone I felt so connected to, wanted to provide for and be a partner with. I never would have gotten to this level. “
Looking back at his noteworthy career, Conboy said that one of his most challenging, but very rewarding, position’s in the Army was his first — learning how to become a Soldier after an ROTC commission from Notre Dame.
“I was fortunate as a young officer to have great noncommissioned officers and great officers to help me through.” Conboy said of his time as a Lieutenant. “I made more than my share of mistakes as a young officer, but I had great mentors along the way that helped guide me — they saw something in me then, that I was good soldier trying to do the right thing – and they helped me to advance and I’ve very grateful for that opportunity.”
That opportunity led to another, and another, and eventually to a 33-year military career that allowed him to assist with standing up the Iraqi military forces and rebuilding the oil infrastructure in southern Iraq. For his final assignment, Conboy worked to improve unit and individual readiness across the entire Army Reserve.
Conboy remains passionate about engineering, which he rediscovered while serving in Thule, Greenland, in a technical engineering assignment. Working with contractors in the brutal and unforgiving Arctic climate gave him a chance to apply the theoretical understanding of engineering that he learned while a student at Notre Dame. The unique challenges of the frozen wasteland served only to rekindle his passion for engineering, a spark that grew even more when he was next assigned to the Army Corps of Engineers. Conboy earned an advanced degree in engineering, then launched into a civilian career with the Corps of Engineers.
“I love working for the Corps of Engineers,” Conboy said. While the Soldier in him may be retiring, the civilian engineer is still going strong. “I love staying connected with the military as a civilian and being able to help solve important problems in our nation’s infrastructure and other engineering challenges.”
Conboy is unsure what retirement will feel like. However, he is confident the Army Reserve has a bright future ahead thanks to its leadership.
“I will leave with a clear focus on the future and thankful for what we’ve been able to be a part of in the past but not in a longing way,” Conboy said. “I’m ready for the next chapter and I’m confident that we’ve left our piece of the Army in a better place, that the people who come after us will take it to the next level,” Conboy said. “I’m looking forward to being a citizen and observing all of that.”
Moving forward, Conboy said of his job and his plans after retirement. “Our daughter, Claire, will go back to the school she was in before and we’re looking forward to the next phase of our lives and we feel really blessed to have had the opportunity to serve for 33 years in our military.”