A rising star in Michigan is promoted after storied life

Story by Lt. Col. John Hall
Friday, October 26, 2018

Lansing, Michigan – She said, “This won’t take long.  You’re a loser!  You’re a high school dropout. I had a lot of fun hanging out with you for the past year.  I can’t do it anymore” was how the end of my carefree summer ended when my girlfriend confronted me to end our relationship.

And there I stood all sweating and dirty from working on my parent’s farm, as she was just beautiful.  “Whoa, why not? I said.”

“I am going back to school. I’m going to go to college. I’m going to do things with my life,” she continued.

I asked, “What can I do?”

“You can go back to school. Maybe we can keep seeing each other if you go back to school.”

This son of a Vietnam War Navy Cross winning Marine, was promoted to Lt. Col. Oct. 25 in Lansing, Michigan, highlighting a series of challenging assignments, deployments and achievements, spanning over a twenty year career in the United States military.

Obie Yordy has spent the past year serving as the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Michigan National Guard.  “This job entails herding cats.  We oversee the command and control, operations of plans and programs affecting more than eight thousand soldiers. We synchronize planning and training plus a lot of ceremonial events – coordinating the President of Liberia visit, planning of command socials, the Memorial Review for the Governor of Michigan.”

“What I didn’t tell you was, before I joined the Marines I went back to high school, because in the previous year I had taken a sabbatical.  I took this sabbatical to work on my “memoirs”, Yordy said with a concerned smile.  “Actually I got a motorcycle, and a job doing four tens, living with a juvenile delinquent friend of mine.

“That day my girlfriend confronted me on my parent’s farm in Dowagiac was life changing for me. My girlfriend, now wife, Brandy gave me the incentive and support I needed.  She helped me through college – helped me through law school.  She gave me a reason to apply to University of Michigan, which I never would have done.”

We returned to school and graduated that spring.  “I joined the Marines right out of high school in 1990.  I entered the University of Michigan in 1997 still in the Marines as enlisted reserve.  Got out of Marines in 1998 and started Cooley Law school that same year.

Lt. Col. Obie Yordy, Assistant Chief of Staff, Michigan National Guard, poses with his family after his promotion ceremony, Oct 25, 2018. (Michigan National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Helen miller)


After 911 Yordy joined the Michigan National Guard where he attended the accelerated Officer Candidate School in Fort McClellan, Alabama in 2003.

He said, “I started off in 119Th Field Artillery, Service Battery.  I wanted to go to OCS, but put it off because it was too challenging to combine with law school.  I spent the whole entire year in the unit, but was still not sent to artillery school. My readiness non-commissioned officer, Sergeant 1st Class John Morgan, a Vietnam vet, said he was going to send me to cook school.  I love cooks, but I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to stay in combat arms. So I walked out his door, walked immediately down the hall to the OCS recruiter.  I said, ‘I need to go to OCS as soon as possible.’  Within a couple of months I was enrolled in the National Guard accelerated OCS program, which follows the same training plan as the federal program at Fort Benning.”  Let me tell you, ‘I thought Alabama would be warm in February, it is not.  I froze my butt.’”

Next stop was the Field Artillery Office Basic Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  Then soon after he arrived home from OBC he got a call to volunteer for a deployment as a fire support officer for the Utah National Guard leading a fires element.  “This is every officer’s dream fresh out of training, to test their skills in combat. So there I was, a Michigan National guardsman, assigned to a Utah National Guard unit, who was attached to a Pennsylvania Guard Command.”

“On this deployment I endued up running into Capt. Dennis at the mobilization station.  It was great to have Michigan National Guard artillery and Infantry officers supporting each other in the combat zone in Iraq.”  Yordy and Dennis’ fire support team were assigned to work in the Anbar province, alongside the Marine base.  “We lost 7 soldiers.  One of them was my Soldier.  We all got pretty close, very hard core.  It was kind of a meat grinder deployment.”

At the end of the deployment when he came home, the 119th Field Artillery was looking for a training officer. “I applied, was selected and stayed with them for the next eight years.”  A part of that eight years was another deployment in 2010, where I was the task force supply officer in Camp Virginia, Kuwait conducting convoy escort duty.

In 2015 Yordy was selected to be the state training officer. Because of his reputation from that positon he was soon selected by the Michigan National Guard, Chief of Staff, Col. Tellier, to be his deputy. He said, “You are going to come work for me.”

“I also love this job.  We are involved in everything that happens in the Michigan National Guard.  There is a lot of opportunity here.  We work to facilitate things for people – to facilitate communication.  We bring people together and I like to bring people together.  That part of it is really fun.  We build bridges and tear down walls.”

“We often forget the sacrifices our families make.  We forget that when we are on mission, we are on an adventure with our best friends. And our families are back home making it all work so we can serve our state and nation.”

Yordy recalls, “My son’s birthday is in October. I was on a deployment to Iraq when he was born.  He reminded me the other day that I missed his birth day – so I should not miss his birthday.”  It seems his son was joking, yet also quite serious.  “So I took him golfing on his birthday.”  Yordy credits his wife and son with helping him cope with the events of that first deployment a decade ago.  “That was a really tough deployment, but coming home to a new son– well he was 8 months old — that helped to overcome a lot of things.”

Yordy is proud to be the son of Vietnam War Navy Cross winner, Charles Yordy. He says proudly, service is a generation commitment in our family with a grandfather who served in the Navy in World War II and a great grandfather who fought in the trenches in World War I.


Charles Yordy who earned the Navy Cross for his actions as a Marine in Vietnam, congratulates his son, Obie Yordy, on is promotion to Lt. Col. The younger Yordy is the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Michigan National Guard.

“I am just so glad that my wife agreed support me from that day on my parent’s farm, right up to this day.  She is an incredible woman.”

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