Dion Moten walks past the turbines at Plant Crist in Pensacola as a senior Engineer.
Now, when he walks through the halls of Fort Jackson, it’s as a newly promoted brigadier general.
He was recently promoted to a one-star general, one of only approximately 80 one-star generals in the U.S. Army Reserves. There are only about 40 two-star generals.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” he said. “One of my buddies emailed when he found out and said, ‘OMG.’ That’s how I feel too. It’s very humbling.”
On Aug. 5, his wife, Brigitte, and three sons, Matthew, Pierce and Coy, took part in the promotion ceremony at Fort Jackson, located near Columbia, S.C.. That’s where Moten will be the deputy commander at the 81st Regional Support Command.
He will be the Deputy Commander and oversee a command that covers nine southern states from Kentucky to Louisiana to Puerto Rico. The responsibilities include administration, facilities, equipment and personnel.
Since the first Gulf War in 1991, National Guard and Reserve units have been deployed with and as part of active military units when needed. Approximately 80 percent of the engineers are in the Army Reserves and National Guard, as well as roughly 70 percent of the military police.
Moten’s military service started when he joined ROTC while studying engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology).
“My mom was dead-set against it,” he said. “I was just trying to put a little extra in my resume because everyone else had engineering degrees as well. The plan was to get in for about six years, then get out. Only I’ve never found the exit door.”
The general remembers his first day in the National Guard in Missouri.
“I walk in and even though I’m just a cadet, the battalion commander puts me in charge of a communications site,” he said. “I told him I don’t know what to do and he says, ‘Never say that again.’ He just said that I should pay attention, listen and learn. I’ve tried to do that my entire career.”
He joined the South Carolina National Guard when he moved to Atlanta to work for an environmental engineering consulting firm. He transferred to the Army Reserves in 2004. He joined Southern Company in 2011, working at Plant Scherer in Georgia for four years before taking the senior Engineer position at Plant Crist two years ago.
He has been called into active duty twice. He was a major when he served in Kuwait in 2004-05 as a project officer handling communications. Then, as a lieutenant colonel, he served in Iraq in 2009-10 as a battalion commander, overseeing 350 soldiers and 80 airmen as they handled communications. Their main responsibility was to set up communications at area bases.
Unlike the earlier days when Reserve duty consisted of one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer, thanks to technology, Moten does Reserve work after his job at Plant Crist for 2-3 hours nightly, plus the weekends. It involves reading reports, researching, conference calls and doing evaluations.
“The technology has helped since you can now do a lot of work online,” he said. “Gulf Power and Southern Company has been very accommodating with me being in the Reserves.”
He’s also joined the new Gulf Power Military Network employee group that was formed earlier this year and was a member of the same group at Georgia Power.
Two years ago, he opted to be put on a list to be considered for General. He didn’t hear back, so he thought he was headed out the retirement door on Aug. 1, when he hit 31 years. But in early March, he received a call, saying that he had been nominated for brigadier general.
Moten was placed on the active list, which goes through the White House, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and U.S. Senate for approval.
Moten was now a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Lt. Col. Lawrence McKiernan, who is a fulltime reservist at Fort Gillem near Atlanta, worked with Moten for 15 months as his deputy commander.
“Gen. Moten is a soldier’s soldier,” McKiernan said. “He’s caring; he knows how to lead and interact with his staff. It’s about what are we going to do for our troops and what makes our organization better? He’s not about himself. He leaves the unit in better shape than how he got it.
“He’s always been that type of leader and that’s why it’s so nice to see someone like him became a brigadier general.”
In five years, Moten will have the option to retire or pursue a second star.
He said the best part of being in the Army Reserves is the people. “The relationships you build are long-lasting. It’s just a great way to serve our country.”