On July 3rd, 2020, the Voices of Freedom Project had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Col. John Fenzel, United States Army (Ret.) in Annapolis, Maryland. Col. Fenzel has a deep heritage to history, as his grandfather served in WWI and his father served in WWII. He, himself, served as a Green Beret in critical battles from Saudi Arabia to Desert Shield/Storm to Bosnia and more.
When his boots hit the ground in Saudi the only thing standing between the Iraqi Army and Saudi Arabia was his team made up of 12 soldiers. They were the sole line of defense. When Desert Storm officially kicked off, and the ground war started, John and his team were again called to action becoming the first combat troops to fight along with an armored unit. John recalls his experiences during Desert Shield/Storm as a seminal event in his life. He even testified at The Hague for a soldier that was wrongly accused of war crimes. Col. Fenzel learned that building relationships, even with the enemy, was critical to mission success. He stated that being a Green Beret was far more art than science.
On September 11, 2001, John found himself in Washington D.C., on the staff of Vice President Cheney. When the planes hit the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, John was in the Old Executive Office Building next to the White House. In the weeks and months that followed, John became instrumental in the shaping of the terrorist warning system that we all became intimately familiar with. After a prestigious career serving under five U.S. presidents, John retired at the rank of Colonel in 2012.
“At the end of the day when you look back, what really stands out are the quality of the people that you were with …. and you remember those people because those are the ones that made you who you are. If you have that, you have this remarkable reservoir of strength that you ordinarily would not have.” - Col. John Fenzel