Face of Defense: ‘Green to Gold’ Soldier Excited About New Challenges

Army Spc. Mcneil Edmonds may seem like any other soldier in today’s Army, but he’s on a path towards becoming a commissioned officer.

Edmonds was hand-picked by Army Brig. Gen. Tony Aguto, commander of the 7th Army Training Command here, for the Army’s Green to Gold commissioning program.

The Army’s Green to Gold program provides selected soldiers the opportunity to complete their baccalaureate degree requirements and obtain a commission through participation in the ROTC scholarship program. Each year, division commanders may nominate deserving soldiers for two-, three- and four-year scholarships.


“This ‘Green to Gold’ opportunity has opened the door for me to further do what I joined to do,” Edmonds said. “I will be pursuing the chaplaincy branch to further serve the Army and give back to the greatest country on earth, while extending the encouragement, hope, and the love of Christ to fellow soldiers.”

Edmonds is an infantryman, but is currently assigned here to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center’s protocol section and serves as a driver for the command team.

In this role, Edmonds meets many senior leaders, and on one occasion while he was driving Aguto into the training area during a rotational exercise, Aguto proposed the idea of Edmonds going “Green to Gold.”

“I was skeptical, but he told me that he would consider nominating me if I chose to do so,” he said. “A couple weeks later, I received a knock on our office door from a representative of 7th ATC. He was there to check on the status of the Green to Gold packet and report back to Brig. Gen. Aguto.”

He added, “I then realized how serious Brig. Gen. Aguto was; he had hand-selected me for [the] scholarship. After some time, many conversations and much prayer, my wife, Amy, and I decided to take this opportunity.”

Superb Soldier

It’s not just the commander of 7th ATC who recognizes Edmonds’ potential, but JMRC’s commander, Col. Curtis Buzzard, has high praise for him as well.

“I have known Spc. Edmonds for almost 18 months while serving as the commander of the Operations Group at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center,” Buzzard said. “As a former battalion and brigade combat team commander, I’ve had the privilege of recommending soldiers for these types of scholarships, and Spc. Edmonds is one of the best candidates, by far.

Buzzard said Edmonds “has demonstrated nothing less than exceptional performance at every task given to him. He is smart, full of initiative, anticipatory and a problem solver, and he has demonstrated excellent character and superior presence. His motivation to excel made a tremendous impact on myself and Brig. Gen. Aguto. Spc. Edmonds’ potential is unlimited, and I am certain he will make a great officer.”

Originally from Greenville, South Carolina, 21-year-old Edmonds, his wife and their two dogs, will, in a sense, be going home again to Conway, South Carolina, where he’ll finish his degree at Coastal Carolina University.

Edmonds said his faith played a large factor in motivating him to join the Army right out of high school.

Giving Back

“I wanted to be able to provide and extend the encouragement, hope and the love of Christ to those in an environment such as the infantry,” Edmonds said. “Also, I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. I wanted to serve the United States, and give back a portion of what the U.S. has provided for generations.”

Though serving may be Edmonds’ biggest calling in the Army, he is loving everything about it and added that the Army has allowed the couple to travel more than they imagined.

“My current job has afforded me the opportunity to meet and talk with many senior military and civilian leaders from the U.S. and other NATO countries,” Edmonds said. “This has been an awesome experience, and one that has set me up to be accepted in the Green to Gold program. I can’t wait for the next chapter to begin.”