Ultimate Soldier For Life
by U.S. Army Stephen Warns
Joint Base San Antonio
September 27, 2023
U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Joshua Tolbert was born to be a Soldier for Life.
September 8, 2023 - U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Joshua Tolbert during his retirement ceremony at IMCOM Headquarters on Fort Sam Houston located in San Antonio, Texas. Tolbert has left an indelible impression on IMCOM PM/P with a fearless and honest approach that has improved the lives of Soldiers and their families. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Army photo by Stephen Warns, Joint Base San Antonio.)
“When I was a kid, all I ever wanted to do was to be in the Army,” said Tolbert, who will retire in November as the U.S. Army Installation Management Command Provost Sergeant Major. “I had relatives who served in various branches, but I always wanted to be a Soldier.”
Tolbert’s journey to becoming a Soldier started at Thunderbird Youth Academy, a military school in Pryor Creek, Oklahoma. While he was there, he also started taking college classes at Northeastern Oklahoma. He enlisted in the Army in November, 1999.
“When I first joined, I intended to make a career of it from the day I started, and I stuck it out,” Tolbert said. “I knew what I was getting into. I didn’t have illusions. That’s extremely rare. In fact, one of the things I did not struggle with but was different was I was so locked in tight when I came in that I had to calm down a little bit when I got to my first duty station.”
While Tolbert knew that he would eventually join the Military Police Corps when he enlisted, he didn’t know exactly what being an MP entailed.
“I had an instructor who was an MP, and that’s kind of why I went in the direction of going into the MP Corps,” Tolbert said. “I’m glad that I did. I have enjoyed the MP corps. It is one of the few branches that has just as much of a peacetime mission as a wartime mission.”
The Army gave Tolbert plenty of opportunities during his career, but perhaps the biggest opportunity for him was the chance to live overseas.
“I not only saw the world, but experienced the world,” Tolbert said. “You can vacation anyplace and get a taste of it, but there are layers of complexity that you don’t get in a short period of time.”
Tolbert was stationed in Germany for four years, Korea for four years, Japan for three years, Italy for one year, and a one-year deployment to Iraq. Asked to pick a favorite place, he cited Japan for its tight-knit community and efficiency.
Plus, he’s also one of the first U.S. enlisted service members to receive the Japanese Defense Cooperation Medal. He received the medal while he was the Sgt. Maj. for First Corps (FWD) for his efforts in the establishment of the first bilateral U.S. Army and Japanese Ground Self Defense Force Headquarters.
Tolbert predates IMCOM, but he has worked as an MP when there were Area Support Groups and has always supported IMCOM in the law enforcement role. It also has allowed him the opportunity to fulfill his core role and function of law enforcement on the installations.
“It has exposed me to a lot of new information and courses,” Tolbert said. “That has allowed me, in my twilight, so to speak, to have a better understanding of how the Army works and hopefully communicate to the people coming after me.”
Everyone wants to retire on a high note, Tolbert said, and he isn’t different. One of the leaders he has served with who has allowed him to do so is Col. Jon Doyle, director of the IMCOM Provost Marshal/Protection Directorate.
“He’s taking things that people may not have done anything with or been able to do for a very long time and brought issues forward with solutions to the highest levels of the MP Corps,” Tolbert said. “The manner in which he communicates those issues tends to put people in a position of wanting to assist.”
And Doyle is quick to point out Tolbert has left an indelible impression on IMCOM PM/P with a fearless and honest approach that has improved the lives of Soldiers and their families.
“Not only has he become my professional battle buddy, but we have become fast friends,” Doyle said. “I can always count on him to keep me grounded and to check on my personal and professional wellbeing. He finds ways to make me laugh and also see challenges from different perspectives. Often in ways I had not considered.”
Tolbert and his wife, Brittany, will retire to Eastland, Texas, where he plans to be active in the community and the local VFW.
“It’s a fantastic town with a great spirit of community that we’re very much looking forward to being a part of,” Tolbert said. “One of my passions is history, and they have an awesome museum that exists on the backs of volunteers. I hope to get involved with that.”
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