White Sands Test Center Commander Col. Eric Rannow joined WSMR leadership following an assumption of command ceremony July 16.
Where are you from and where is home for you?
My wife Katy and I are both from Racine, Wisconsin. The Army has moved us around the country our fair share over the last 24 years. We’ve been stationed in Texas, Oklahoma, New York State, Virginia, Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and now New Mexico. We’ve really enjoyed every place the Army has assigned us to. Home for the Rannow Family is now White Sands.
Who are your family members?
My family members are my wife Katy and our two wonderful children August and Abigail. August is 15 years old and he starts 10th grade in the fall, while Abigail is 13 and will be an 8th grader.
When you were younger what did you aspire to be?
My dad was a police officer, so as a youngster, I wanted to follow in his career footsteps. However, I was always very interested in the Army.
What led you to the Army?
In high school, I learned about all the educational opportunities offered by the military in the form of ROTC and the Service Academies. I was most intrigued with the challenge of attending West Point and becoming an Army Officer. In July of 1987, I left home for West Point and have been with the Army ever since.
Do you have any stories you would like to share from your time in the Army?
Most of my Army stories seem to revolve around teamwork. A team of motivated Soldiers working together to accomplish a mission. That said, I do have one story to share. When I was stationed up at Fort Drum, New York, as a captain, I had the privilege of commanding an artillery battery. We would often go to the field in the dead cold of winter and fire hundreds of artillery rounds in support of combined arms training with the 10th Mountain Division. Anyway, as we fired the artillery rounds, the base plates of the howitzers would get so hot that they would melt the snow away. If you were not careful, the base plates would quickly cool in the frigid winter temperatures of upstate New York and actually freeze to the ground! That howitzer could be stuck to the ground for hours depending on the temperature swings. With any of the artillery tests we perform here at White Sands, I suspect we won’t have to worry about the howitzers freezing to the ground!
What have you learned from previous leadership roles?
I’ve learned you must have a passion for the job. The Soldiers, Civilians, and Contractors comprising your organization sense your eagerness and excitement. As a leader, if you are fired-up about your job and bring passion, your team will match your enthusiasm.
Is there anyone who helped guide you to where you are today?
I certainly have had the benefit of some great teachers, coaches and counselors helping me along while growing up, but my greatest influence was my family. I was the oldest of five kids and we were very close. The family values instilled in me by my parents and siblings have always sustained me. Now my wife and kids inspire me to always do my best.
What do you and your family like to do for fun?
We love to travel and experience all the wonderful places the Army plops us down at. We’ve been here at WSMR almost a month now and we are ready to get after it, planning road trips to the Grand Canyon, Albuquerque, and Carlsbad Caverns this summer. Last week we made the short trip up the road to White Sands National Monument and that was spectacular.
What do you like to do for fun?
For fun, I always look forward to spending time with my family. We are blessed with extended family and friends that keep in touch by visiting us often. Wherever the Army sends us, both my folks and my wife’s parents visit from Wisconsin multiple times a year. It is always fun to entertain house guests. In no particular order, I also enjoy working my BBQ smoker grill in the backyard, watching football, and exercising. Actually, I exercise as often as I do, so I can eat BBQ and watch football!
How do you feel about coming to WSMR?
We’ve never lived in a place like WSMR before in terms of geography. I spent my lieutenant years in the Army at Fort Hood but central Texas is nothing like the desert here. We are eager to experience the Southwest and I’m personally excited about the opportunity to lead the premiere test center in the Department of Defense.
What do you hope to accomplish while you’re here?
During my assignment here at WSMR I have two goals. First, I want to take care of people, providing them opportunities to realize their goals in life. Looking back, the leaders I’ve worked for over the years provided me with coaching, mentoring, and opportunities to excel. I look forward to giving back in this regard. Next, I want to leverage the terrific history of the White Sands Test Center and contribute to the continued success of the organization.