Back when we were doing the things kids of our era did for fun, rollerblading to soundtrack music and climbing on top of Jolley School, I had no idea that I was in the presence of a future United States Army colonel. Erica Iverson, who grew up in Vermillion, has achieved the most senior field-grade military officer rank.

Among those who join the United States Army, only 2% reach this rank. To further distinguish this accomplishment, only about 10% of those top 2% are women*.

The windy winter streets of Chicago, under full COVID precaution, served as the backdrop for Erica Iverson's promotion ceremony. Friends, colleagues and family, including her husband, Michael Guy, arrived at the Pritzker Military Museum on Dec. 3, 2021, ready to honor and to celebrate.

Everyone was armed with maps, itineraries and updates provided by the honoree to make our stay more pleasant and enriching. MG Joseph P. (JP) McGee, who is the commanding general, 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell, Kentucky, offered remarks.

Just like that, she became Colonel Erica Iverson. However, the work she put in to get to this moment started many years before this cold Chicago afternoon.

Her career started with a foundation of education through the Vermillion School District, then a BS in English from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska and topped off with a Master’s in Business Administration from George Washington University.

During Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) in Omaha, Erica met COL Inès White US Army (Ret.) who recognized her potential, and years later was there to promote her to major. These two friends, who stayed in touch all these years, would often meet up in the most random of places like Kuwait, Iraq and Germany to just name a few.

The foundation for service was scaffolded in her Vermillion upbringing. Her mother, Julie Stewart, is a beloved book-loving educator who encourages acts of service while her stepfather, Kevin Bliss, is a visionary construction entrepreneur.

Her father, Dwight Iverson, is a hard-working business owner with her creative and dedicated stepmother, Monica Iverson, who together created businesses that are the beating heart of our hometown.

A military career often kept Erica away from her family and friends, requiring frequent moves and tours of duty. She enlarged her network of trusted friends to include these who had her back on deployments and who served with her in various capacities.

She learned to protect her time for the things that really matter such as visiting her grandmother, Glennis Stewart, as frequently as possible before she passed away, stealthily arriving unnoticed by others, at her care center. Erica became a master at planning, balancing and monitoring her mental and physical fitness. She continues to be an avid reader and maintains outreach to her large collection of friends including disseminating an annual Christmas letter detailing her adventures.

COL (Ret.) Inès White, who has since retired after 27 years of service, said, "As a person you will often hear about what a truly good human being Erica is. But I will add that she has all the best qualities you want in a leader."

In regards to Erica's promotion White said, "It takes a lot of hard work, and that still doesn’t guarantee your next rank, because it is based on the potential of the person to achieve the next rank. So technically the Army is saying that they can see Erica achieving the rank of brigadier general. I am happy to say, I completely agree!"

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