Retired Col. David H. Carstens, ’88, 2021 Professional Achievement Award Recipient

“Good deeds are contagious; when we pay it forward, we motivate others to do the same.”

As a highly accomplished U.S. army veteran Colonel, military intelligence officer and counterintelligence special agent with 32 years of experience, retired Col. David H. Carstens, ’88, has served in locations around the world through peacetime, contingency and wartime operations. He currently serves as Chief, Military Coordination Office, for the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, Romania. However, David gained his first military experiences while in the Kent State ROTC program.

“My experiences with the Kent State University Honors College and Army ROTC program were essential in my development as an international relations expert and future leader,” said David. “Within the superb learning environment provided by Kent State, I was allowed to reach my full potential, make mistakes, learn and grow with the help of wonderful teachers and mentors like Ottavio Casale, former dean, Honors College, and Colonel (retired) Joseph Cretella, former professor of military science (PMS), Kent State Army ROTC.”

He graduated from Kent State in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and went on to command U.S. Army units at echelons up to brigade level. He is recognized in U.S. Army history for developing the intelligence analysis that allowed operations in Iraq to trigger combat 24 hours earlier than planned. He even led operations for the first intelligence task force deployed to Afghanistan.

David has written numerous military-related articles, including his most recent piece on Romania as a soft power leader, which was featured in Romania’s leading military intelligence journal. He has been personally recognized by the former U.S. Ambassador to Romania Adrian Zuckerman for his outstanding support to security cooperation.

"I was honored and privileged to work with David while I was the United States Ambassador to Romania," said Ambassador Zuckerman. "David is the epitome of intelligence, hard work and common sense. He was always one of my closest advisors and go-to problem solvers. His work and initiatives helped advance the United States bilateral relationship with Romania. There could not be a worthier recipient for the Professional Achievement Award. I am proud to call David a friend."

In addition to his personal accolades, David commanded the U.S. Army garrison in Wiesbaden, Germany, from 2012-14, comprised of 19,000 soldiers, civilians and family members. During this period of unprecedented growth, the garrison transformed the post and successfully moved the U.S. Army Europe Headquarters there. They were awarded the U.S. Army Superior Unit Award and were recognized as the 2012 Army Community of Excellence (ACOE) Sustained Excellence Award winner, making them the best of six ACOE award-winning garrisons and one of the top two U.S. Army garrisons in the world.

One of David’s most distinguished honors was to be awarded “Das Ehrenkreuz der Bundeswehr in Silber” (German Army Cross of Honor in Silver), presented by the German Minister of Defense for strengthening U.S. and German security partnerships. While he has received many awards over the years, he is most proud of the outstanding group of service members with whom he served.

“I am most proud of having served alongside thousands of U.S. military service members, our nation's most precious gift, in peacetime and war during my 30-years of active-duty service,” David said.

When David isn’t on duty, he is volunteering his time to the communities and organizations that need his support. As a member of the Board of Trustees for the American International School of Bucharest (AISB), he helps develop policy and infrastructure improvements for the largest international school in Romania.

From 2015 to 2018 while located in Wiesbaden, Germany, he also dedicated countless hours to nutritional education for public elementary school children as the first U.S. member of the Wiesbaden Rotary Club. Some other volunteer highlights include his work with junior officers through the U.S. Army mentorship program and the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Bucharest, Romania, which supports those struggling with food insecurity.

“It is immensely important to lead by example, this includes community volunteer activities,” said David. “Good deeds are contagious; when we pay it forward, we motivate others to do the same.”

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