2022 Salute to Veterans
Service Branch: U.S. Army
Theater of operations: Bosnia
Service: Oregon Army National Guard: 1970-1983
Active-Duty Oregon National Guard: 1982-1999
Active-Duty US Army Bosnia-Herzegovina
Department of Defense: GS-15
Iraq every 6 months: 2003-2001
Afghanistan every 6 months: 2003-2011
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY:
COLONEL TURNED LECTURER TAUGHT FROM EXPERIENCE
Bob Tomasovic had a front-row seat to the wars that broke out during the 1990s and 2000s.
Tomasovic, a Tigard resident, served in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 2001, with 24 years of active duty, and later worked for the Department of Defense as a civilian. He spent time in three extremely dangerous parts of the world before his service to his country was over.
“I spent (a total of) three years in combat zones — 14 (months) in Bosnia and the other 16 (months) were between Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Tomasovic.
He deployed to war-torn Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995, where he was part of the stabilization forces for NATO, working under Gen. Montgomery Meigs, who later became commander-in-chief of the U.S. Army’s European operations.
“I was there as we were helping to organize what was called the Entity Armed Forces at the time, which consisted of the Serbian Bosniak (i.e. the Muslim forces) and then the Croatian forces,” he said. “I specifically deployed and established the Office of the Inspector General with a colonel and major from each of the three armies established under the Dayton Peace Agreement, which left the country with three armies under two commands — the Bosniak and Bosnian Croat armies within the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, facing their recent adversaries, the Army of the Republika Srpska.”
Tomasovic said the U.S. Army had a two-week course to train an inspector general, and he created a similar course there, training entity officers to be inspector generals. He later taught and served as a mentor to them and supervised their conduct.
He found the experience fascinating.
“If the case involved a general officer, then in order to protect their integrity, I would lead the investigation, reporting the findings to Gen. Meigs for his consideration,” Tomasovic said.
The Bosnian War left an estimated 101,000 people dead — the majority of them Bosniaks in the first genocide in Europe since World War II.
“My last name, Tomasovic, is actually Croatian — or Bosnian or Bosniak. It depends on what religion your brother decided to become. So there’s Tomasovics all over that country,” Tomasovic said. “And part of that war was brothers, because of marriage or because of family or because of other issues, (they) had become one of those religions and therefore they were separated, in conflict with each other.”
Tomasovic said he loves Bosnia — he’s returned three times in peacetime — and especially enjoys the beauty of the Adriatic Sea coast.
When he returned from Bosnia, he focused on fostering professionalism among the ranks and how the Army could do better over there.
After retiring with the rank of colonel from the Army, Tomasovic stayed active in military affairs as a civilian employee of the U.S. Department of Defense.
He was given a duty assignment for the Oregon National Guard before being sent to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, to prepare National Guard units who might be deployed to Bosnia, and, later, to Iraq and then Afghanistan.
Tomasovic accepted a senior lecturer position, where his goal was “getting the right people in the room,” as he put it, until he finally retired for good in 2021.
The program he created was called Leader Development and Education for Sustained Peace. It continues today, providing educational program support to the National Guard as part of the State Partnership Program.
“Principally, the programs focused on the political, cultural and economic structure of the region/country,” Tomasovic said.
A Tigard resident since 1984, Tomasovic has been married to his wife, Denise, for 51 years.
During a retirement commemoration for Tomasovic, one participant said that during his career, Tomasovic made “remarkable accomplishments that made the world a better place.”