By Antwaun J. Parrish
USACE Far East District Public Affairs
SEOUL, South Korea—More than 9,000 miles away from a city with a population of 31,000 people, two United States Army Colonels from the same hometown, working in the same technical field and similar positions, cross paths yet again.
Col. Teresa Schlosser, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District commander, and Col. Andrew “Andy” Liffring, Eighth Army assistant chief of staff engineer, are natives of Helena, Mont., and although they both are senior ranking officers their small town Montana roots keep them grounded.
“Helena is a town where you know everybody, and it’s pretty cool,” said Liffring. “It produces people with high values similar to those in the Army such as honesty, trust, and loyalty.”
After both attending high school in Helena and completing their college educations, they first reunited in the Engineer Officer Basic Course. More than a decade later they would eventually attend the U.S. Army War College together.
“When I saw her at Army War College, I knew exactly who she was,” said Liffring.
Liffring came to Korea this summer and succeeded Schlosser as Eighth Army assistant chief of staff engineer. So how did these two Montanans end up in the same country and same position? Well, it wasn’t by chance. Schlosser called Liffring to take over once she moved to the Far East District.
“She called and told me the challenges here at Eighth Army,” said Liffring. “This has been one of the most intellectually stimulating jobs I‘ve ever held and one of the best in the Army.”
Liffring described their working relationship as cooperative. He also emphasized that the culture in Montana is to be thankful for each individual’s career success.
“It’s a hard work culture state which fits in the military,” said Liffring. “Our career achievements are a great example of our school system, culture, values, and community of Montana.”
Recalling the reunion with Liffring at the U.S. Army War College, Schlosser said she initially failed to remember him after so much time had passed since the Basic Course.
“In Carlisle Barracks, Young Hall you have 26 colonel families living in this one building,” said Schlosser. “So Andy was there as a geographical bachelor and he moved in next door to us with another geographical bachelor. We went in to say hello and meet the new neighbors, and as I walk in the door, he says, ‘you’re Teresa Schlosser’. Then he said, we went to the basic course together. To some extent it’s easier for guys to remember the women, because there were only two or three of us at the basic course.”
Schlosser knew that she would only be at Eighth Army for one year and would take command of the Far East District in her next assignment. She wanted input in who succeeded her and in no time she immediately knew that Andy was the right fit for the position.
“He has the right construction background, engineering background, disposition,” said Schlosser. “This is the job he’s built for.”
Schlosser said whenever she leaves she wants to ensure her subordinates are taken care of and she knew that Liffring would do just that and be a great battle buddy for her while she’s in command at the District.
“Because Eighth Army is one of my biggest customers,” said Schlosser. “It benefits me and the district if I know I have this great guy over there who knows his stuff.”
The Army is the largest branch in the armed services with people stationed in locations all over the globe. The fact that two colonels from the same small hometown end up as close colleagues is extremely rare. Schlosser said the longer you stay in the Army you begin to realize one thing.
“The Army becomes a smaller place.”