Entire blocks of homes were obliterated, search and rescue crews were going door to door looking for survivors, thousands of National Guard troops and emergency aid workers were out on a mission to help those who made it through the storm.
Emergency officials claimed they received thousands of calls asking about missing people yet with the cellphone service out of service across the Florida Panhandle, officials said it was possible that some of the unaccounted for were safe and just not able to make communications with family and friends at the time.
Hurricane Michael was the most powerful storm to hit the U.S. in almost 50 years.
From the sandbox’s of Iraq and Afghanistan’s war torn arenas to the domestic sands of Panama City, the ravages of hurricane Michael will be transformed by this retired two star army general Mark McQueen as he traded his army boots of 36 years for construction boots as a civilian, now ready for the battle of restoration of this 40,000 resident community hard hit by category 4 hurricane Michael’s fury.
“This is Baghdad with trees,” he said. “One hundred percent collapse of infrastructure”.
He’s a man of dedication and great service to his country, church and fellow man, Maj. Gen. Mark McQueen no sooner retired from the Army after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan when he started his new job as City Manager in Florida’s Panama city.
Having no municipal experience and having been on the job only two weeks, city leaders noted this two star general was a God send for their long recovery ahead.
This hurricane packed the biggest punch as it was the most devastating storm to hit Florida in decades, 90% of all power poles were down. Almost all of Panama city’s sewer, water, electric, and cell services were totally wiped out and the city’s lush tree canopy was in splinters, covering roads and homes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnlwkeOq25k
As for Gen McQueen, he was chosen out of an 80 person candidate pool, for the job of City Manager in this little Panhandle town, he’s a special individual, resilient, driven and truly cares about people.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln
His military qualifications and leadership skills play an instrumental part in the healing process in the near future for this community, but this man of God accepted this position six months earlier and had asked the commission for a grace period to tie up loose ends with his military service and end his civilian job as a church business administrator, he was a man who would give his life for his country and yet before he started his job in Panama city, there was a man from his church who needed a kidney and Gen McQueen donated one of his kidneys to this stranger yes a stranger….because he believes life is all about serving others in need and has a proven track record to prove it.
“What am I going to do for the second half of the game, the game of my life to contribute, to give back, to secure victory, to get the win?” he told the Panama City News Herald. “I want to commit myself to that life of continuing to be a service leader, to being one who is giving back to the community.
I am standing before you today not only because of the great opportunities I have had in my civilian career but also my military, and I was able to have that military career right here in Panama city and become a senior leader in the United States Army because of the investment this community made in me. It’s my time to give back to this community.”
McQueen came to Panama City in 1988 for a job at a community college, there he met his wife and they raised their two children. Through the years he grew through the military ranks, from Officer to Special Operations Command, to his final assignment to his final assignment as a Commanding General of the 108th Training Command Headquartered in Charlotte, NC. where he commanded about 7,000 soldiers. One of their duties was to repair Baghdad’s infrastructure.
He was also instrumental in the assignment to help orchestrate emergency response to hurricane Florence. Loosing his own home along with tens of thousands of unlivable homes in a city where 75% of schoolchildren get free or reduced lunches, it will be a challenge to find affordable housing and housing for the needy.
This man of God’s reply to this devastation that claimed the homes and economy of Panama City “I’m going to rebuild the economic engine of the city. We’re going to work the problem, and create a solution.”
According to the U.S. Army Reserve website: “Major General Mark T McQueen, he was the Commanding General of the 108th Training Command (IET), headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was responsible for more than 8,000 Soldiers in 44 states and Puerto Rico.
The 108th is the sole force provider of Drill Sergeants within the Army Reserve. The command also maintains a Division of instructors and trainers dedicated to assisting with the Cadet Summer Training missions for both ROTC at Fort Knox, Kentucky and also the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
His previous assignment was as Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Europe, where he was responsible for the mobilization and deployment of Army National Guard and United States Army Reserve within 51 countries in European Theater of operations. United States Army Europe has over 30, 000 Soldiers who are vital to the land component of the NATO alliance.
Born in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, the general is a 1978 graduate of Enterprise High School. Upon completion of a year of education at Enterprise State Junior College, Major General McQueen transferred to Auburn University where he graduated as a ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance.
He was commissioned in the Regular Army as an Adjutant General’s Corps officer and later transferred into the Civil Affairs Corps which was then a part of the Army’s Special Operations Command.
His military education includes: The Adjutant General’s Corps Basic and Advanced Course, the Combined Arms Services Staff School, Command and General Staff College, the Army War College, The National Security Studies Program, CAPSTONE and the Combined/Joint Force Land Component Commander’s Course.
Major General McQueen also earned a Master of Science in Counseling and Human Development from Troy State University and a Masters degree in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College.
Major General McQueen has served in every level of command and staff from company command through General Officer. Additionally, Major General McQueen has served in multiple deployments to include OPERATION JOINT ENDEAVOR in Bosnia, OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan and OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM in Baghdad, Iraq.
His awards and decorations included the Legion of Merit (with two oak leaf clusters), Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal with oak leaf cluster, and Combat Action Badge.”
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