Funk promoted to full colonel

The superintendent of Albert Lea Area School, an officer in the Minnesota National Guard, was promoted to colonel from lieutenant colonel today in a ceremony in St. Paul.

Mike Funk

After finishing two years of classes through the U.S. Army War College, Mike Funk was promoted to director of planning for the Minnesota National Guard. That also led to a promotion.

Funk said Maj. Gen. Richard Nash gave him the promotion at 2:30 p.m. today. He’d been a lieutenant colonel for more than five years. Funk originally joined in 1988, and he never anticipated he’d stay enlisted this long.

“I thought I’d stay for 20 years,” Funk said. “I didn’t expect the opportunity to go to war college.”

Funk was one of three people in the state who are chosen each year to attend the college. He took classes online and will finish up his second year this summer. He’ll leave the college with a master’s degree in strategic studies.

“It’s an honor to be picked,” Funk said.

The college has expanded his perspective, and he said he likes learning more about leadership, which helps him as a superintendent.

“I’ve learned the value of collaboration,” Funk said. “Everyone has different values and levels of expertise.”

As director of planning for the Minnesota National Guard, he is part of a team that does long-term planning for deployments, modernization of equipment and staffing.

Funk said that as colonel he’ll have to serve three years, and then he’ll have to choose whether he wants to stay enlisted.

Funk said he’s not needed on the current deployment of Albert Lea’s unit, the Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division. He’s on the committee of the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Program, which he said is hard after having been commander of the unit. A Yellow Ribbon City is one that has a delegated action plan in place to support and take action to help service members and their families.

“I feel I should be out there with them,” Funk said. “At the same time I have a commitment to the students in Albert Lea.”