Harry's Gang: Esko grad keeps going places
July 14, 2023
In town for a family reunion, and to help her grandparents Jim and Ann Mosack of Esko move to assisted living, Roz Chromy tracked me down to give me an update on her life since she left in 2009, a couple years after I opened Eskomo Pizza Pies in Esko, where Roz would hang out with her friends.
She’s changed a bit, but is more Roz as ever. And she’s about to be promoted to the rank of major in the U.S. Air Force, which is pretty impressive for a 32-year-old Esko grad.
She went off to college at St. Thomas in St. Paul in 2009 to play basketball, and participated in ROTC. She was commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation, which is normal for ROTC. She started — and still works — in acquisition, which is responsible for all the things the Air Force buys: from fighter jets to blankets for the barracks, uniforms to flight equipment, space systems to satellites. It’s a career path that she’s been on for 10 years.
Her parents helped set her up in the right direction. Al Chromy, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, was the ROTC director at the University of Minnesota Duluth during her high school years. At the same time, her mother, Laurie Chromy, had gone back to school and became a nurse.
“Dad and Mom were both inspirations, but watching Mom go back to school when I was in ninth grade was especially inspiring,” Roz said. “It made me believe I could do anything.”
Last year, Roz deployed with Special Operations at the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, where the special ops command is headquartered, then deployed again (to a location she wouldn’t tell me), further building her career as a program manager. Then, she was off to Ohio at Wright-Patterson AFB (her mom jokes that Roz must be working with aliens, because she can’t say much more than that). She did tell me that she’s working on electronic systems for fighter jets and bombers and all kinds, including special ops, but she could not go into more detail.
She credits her high school years quite a bit.
“Growing up in Esko really prepared me. Excellence was expected from everything you do, from academics to sports, to staying out of trouble, and even how you were expected to behave in the community. I was encouraged to give back, and to maintain high standards in a constant pursuit of excellence,” she said. “It set me up for success. The expectations as a student in that Esko high school building follows me today, as I lead teams of hundreds of people. That experience is why I am where I am, now.”
“I played a lot of basketball in the Esko gym and attended UMD camps in the summer with kids who would then become my teammates in high school,” she said.
We also discussed politics because, well, that’s what I do. Roz, as she did back then, has a positive take on politics and serving in the armed forces.
“ROTC and the armed forces are great ways to serve, and to know you have a job after college. A lot of the work we do is protecting our country. It’s a place for patriots, both liberals and conservatives,” she said. “We protect our country, especially from conflicts or attacks on our own soil, and that serves all of us.”
I couldn’t agree with her more.
In 2024 she will be moving, but she doesn’t know where. She hopes to be in charge of a squadron, over a group of people working on a specific acquisition, or in support of a specific base, as she is about to reach the rank of major, the next step toward commanding a base.
“I could have never predicted what my life would have been like over the past 15 years since graduating Esko high school,” she said. “I’ve been all over the world, experienced things I never even knew existed, and have had opportunities I never thought possible.”
I asked her what advice she’d give students today who want a successful career. “Remember, sometimes you have to do things that are good for you even when you don’t like doing them. Still, do your best.”
I’d say that applies to more than just high school students.
Pete Radosevich is the publisher of the Pine Knot News community newspaper and an attorney in Esko who hosts the cable access talk show Harry’s Gang on CAT-7. His opinions are his own. Contact him at [email protected].