EricIn 1983, Eric Kerska was a Winona State University student who joined the Army ROTC because he needed the extra $100 a month.

“I know that sounds funny today, but a hundred bucks was a life changer for me back then,” Kerska said. “After I got into the program and found out what it was all about and what they stood for, I was an eager participant.”

Now a 32-year Army veteran, Kerska has served three combat tours supporting Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and served as a leader in a variety of positions with the Army. This past summer, the Rochester resident was inducted into the National Army ROTC Hall of Fame.

“It is humbling to have 32 years of my life recognized. Knowing I had a positive impact on many people makes me very proud,” Kerska said. “I was so fortunate to spend three decades with such talented and dedicated people.”

Kerska was a member of the WSU Army ROTC program from 1983 to 1985 while receiving a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in political science. He especially appreciated the opportunity to explore leadership and service through the ROTC program.

“We would do physical fitness training at the lake every morning,” Kerska said. “We would run in formation around the lake. I remember learning the value of teamwork, how it was more important for the group to stay together and finish together than for setting any speed records.”

Service also continues to be an integral part of life for Kerska, who has served his community for the past 22 years as a firefighter for the city of Rochester, where he is a battalion chief.

“Our society and our country need leadership. Continue to serve even out of uniform by giving your leadership skills back to society,” Kerska said. “Ninety-nine percent of our citizens are looking for the leadership you can provide.”

For more information on Kerska’s story, check out “A Life in Service – 32 Years in Uniform” in the Fall 2016 issue of WSU’s Currents magazine, available online at

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Samantha Stetzer

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