Why I Serve: U.S. Army Reserve Col. hangs up ice skates to serve his country

By Staff Sgt. David Overson | 305th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment | June 4, 2019

FORT SHAFTER FLATS, HI —

Ice hockey in Hawaii? Say it isn’t so. It is though, and U.S. Army Reserve Col. Patrick M. Pascall is living proof of that. Pascall, the 9th Mission Support Command’s operations, plans and training officer is also a center in his spare time for the Honolulu Whalers, an adult league hockey team. The Whalers, by the way, just happened to win the State of Hawaii hockey championship, the King Kamehameha Cup, May 22. 

Winning local hockey games isn’t Pascall’s only claim to fame though, the Army Reservist was once an Olympic hockey player at the age of 18 for Team USA from 1979 to 1980.

So, how did an Olympic hockey player go from the ice rink to the battlefield? 

“After a devastating injury my professional hockey aspirations were over,” said Pascall. “However, I soon found out that I could still belong to a team, wear a uniform, and experience comradery with the Army.” 

Pascall initially joined the New York Army National Guard in 1989 as an enlisted military police officer. However, he soon knew that he wanted to make Reserve life a longer career and decided to become an officer. 

“I just thought I’d be able to make a larger contribution if I became an officer,” added Pascall. “I see a lot of similarities in the military that I saw in hockey. There’s strategy, believe it or not, in hockey, just as there is in the military. There’s challenges in both hockey and the military and I’m thrilled with where my military career these past 30 years has taken me.”

At 57 Pascall’s military career is beginning to wind down, but he says he’s seen so much and done so many things that he has no regrets. From an Iraq deployment, to an Afghanistan deployment, multiple trips to help in Haiti, and to the Horn of Africa, he’s provided superior leadership everywhere he’s gone.

“It’s very easy working with Col. Pascall because he’s a professional,” said Col. Geoffrey D. Greene, 9th Mission Support Command’s Chief of Staff. “He’s very intelligent, very organized, and he knows what he wants to accomplish and how to accomplish it. He’s very adept at organizing his team to accomplish the same goals.”

Pascall spent the majority of his civilian career in law enforcement, even attaining the lofty status of police chief in his home town of Buffalo, NY. His dedication to doing the right thing is so evident that he carries a newspaper clipping around with him in his wallet of a Soldier video chatting with his young children. It’s a tattered clipping of someone he doesn’t even know, but it reminds him of why he does what he does. It reminds him of what’s at stake when planning missions.

He uses it as an example for his subordinates when they’re planning large exercises.

“Look at this, he says. I show this to my guys and I remind them, ‘if you’re feeling like taking a short cut during the planning portion of an exercise, think of this Soldier and his young children. Think of the impact our planning may have on his life, and the lives of his children. We bear an enormous responsibility to prepare our Soldiers with the best training possible, and the safest training possible, so they come home to their families at the end of the day.’”

Pascall said that one of the most rewarding parts of his long career was when a father came up to him after his unit returned from Iraq and the father thanked him for bringing his son home safely. “That moment has stuck with me ever since, and I try to keep that in mind every time I’m planning any mission or exercise.”

Pascall and his wife Amy will soon be leaving Hawaii and the 9th Mission Support Command when he returns to Buffalo to officially retire from the police department. Following retirement from his civilian career, he is slated to become the director of plans at U.S. Army South in Miami, FL.

“I might not be wearing a hockey uniform anymore,” Pascall added. “But now I have this one, I have this,” as he pats his ‘Old Ironsides’ combat patch. “I love what I do, I love to contribute, I love to serve, and though I’m not ready to retire from the Army just yet, I know once I do I’ll still continue to serve in one way or another.”