The Foxhole — Spotlight on: Wilton's Alex Ruskewich
Post 86’s current Jr. Vice Commander and former finance officer is Alex Ruskewich. Alex was born in Brooklyn, graduating from Lafayette High School.
Attending the City College of New York, he entered the ROTC program and received his commission and graduated in December 1959 with an electrical engineering degree. Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Colin Powell was also enrolled in the same ROTC program at CCNY at the same time.
Upon commissioning, Alex was assigned as a staff officer, Company B/588 Engineering (Construction) Battalion at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. Shortly thereafter, he was assigned as a platoon leader, Co. B. In March 1961, he was promoted to 1st Lt. and assigned as company commander of Co. B.
While there, his units were training in building bridges, paving various surfaces as well as learning to operate heavy equipment (bulldozers, trucks and back loaders).
After the Berlin Crisis began, Alex was reassigned to the 585th Engineer Company as executive officer in September of 1961. The equipment from this unit had already been shipped to Europe. The company stayed at Ft. Belvoir however, with borrowed equipment from other units, training for a possible invasion. Though his unit did not deploy to Europe, Alex’s company was “ready to roll” if called upon.
Alex recalls one soldier who went Absent Without Leave (AWOL). The battalion commander, who was strict (but fair) sent this soldier to the group commander for a court martial. This group commander, inexperienced in direct command of troops, elected to read bible verses to this AWOL soldier, then sent him back to the battalion commander for rehabilitation. However, before the soldier returned, he went AWOL again! When the battalion commander learned of the AWOL, he asked the group commander “if we should ‘rehabilitate’ this soldier by mail.”
Upon leaving active duty, Alex served in the reserves for a year while working. He then applied to Columbia University and graduated with an MBA in 1965. While there, he was elected class president. His first job was with IBM in Manhattan, then transferred to Vienna and Paris where he lived for seven years. He traveled extensively throughout Eastern Europe as a representative for IBM. While living there, Alex met his wife.
Returning to the States, he worked in Atlanta for two years, then moved to Wilton from where he taught in White Plains at the IBM Advanced Business Institute until retirement after 34 years.
Alex took four things from military service that helped him in work and life:
- Integrity is the most important quality for a leader to lead effectively.
- As a leader, you must listen to those with more experience, even if they are of a lower rank/position in the company.
- Meeting people from all walks of life, if you treat them with respect, they will reciprocate.
- All young people should be required to serve in national service, whether military of civilian.
Tom Moore is adjutant of Wilton’s American Legion Post 86. Information: email@example.com.