Col. Adelaido Godinez says “a broken heart” inspired him to join the military.
“I saw my sweetheart dancing with someone else. A recruiter came the next day, and I immediately enlisted.”
That was in 1990, the year Godinez graduated from Muleshoe High School. His career in the U.S. Army took him all over the world.
“I was in several different wars on the attack night,” he said.
Godinez was deployed to Korea in 1990, then to Kuwait. He was in Bosnia in 2001 after the 9-11 attack, and in 2004 he was deployed to Iraq as Rifle Company Commander in the I-14th Infantry.
He commanded Charlie Company till August of 2004, when he went up to headquarters and served in different capacitys for the brigade and the division. In 2007 he was Operations Officer for the Stryker Brigade in Hawaii.
In 2010-2011 Godinez was deployed to Germany. He attended the School of Advance Military Studies, whose graduates are known as the Jedi Knights. After graduation, he was immediately deployed to Afghanistan, where he served as Deputy Chief of Plans.
From 2015-2018, Godinez served as Senior Policy Advisor, Mexico, for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President in Washington, D.C. From 2019-2021 he was Americas Division Chief for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon.
From 2018-2019, he served as Army Strategy, Policy, and Plans Program Senior Fellow at the College of International Security Affairs at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.
Having served over two administrations, Godinez said, “It taught me a lot about how we transition power in the United States.”
Godinez’ father and several half-brothers still live in the Muleshoe area. His father farms near Lariat. His cousin Armando Godinez attended his retirement ceremony
Godinez attended Lazbuddie ISD through fifth grade and felt some misgivings about leaving his friends and moving to Muleshoe in the sixth.
Though he was captain of the football team as well as student council president in his senior year, Godinez said at the time he didn’t recognize his own natural leadership ability.
“Being a Mexican-American, I felt out of place, not feeling like a part of either group,” he said.
He credits his high school teachers and the administration for helping him overcome this.
“I thank every principal and teacher who really believed in me,” he said.
Godinez especially mentions gifted and talented teacher Alice Liles, Spanish teacher John Gulley, and speech and logic teacher Kerry Moore.
“I don’t think I can ever replace what we’ve experienced over the last 31 years,” Godinez said. “It was a fantastic experience, one that both advanced our national security interests, and enlightened me to the world of what’s possible.”
Godinez, 50, said that although he is retiring, he will not stop working. He has accepted a position as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
“I’ll be trying to make a difference teaching Strategy, Policy and Plans , a 501 course for graduate students,” he said. “The military is a learning organization. There’s tactical learning – if you don’t learn fast, you die. There’s strategic learning – if you don’t learn fast, you lose. It’s about learning how to learn.
“Young people feel a sense of purpose, and they read everything they’re told to read. I’m excited to find people who are excited about what they do in that next chapter.”
Life in the military is hard, Godinez said, but it helps if you can find ways to “embrace the suck.”
“You find a ways to enjoy the physicality of being an army officer,” Godinez said. “When it’s really hard, you need a partner to help you through the hard parts. When it’s complicated, it’s OK to ask for help.
“You learn to be humble, to recognize your strengths and look for people to fill in your weaknesses. You learn to value everybody’s perspective, to be more human.”
For The Journal