Colonel Rocky McPherson - USMC (Retired) - Yula, FL

Over the course of more than 29 years, Colonel Warren R. (“Rocky”) McPherson served the United States of America and contributed immeasurably to the national security of the nation via his distinguished active duty career with the United States Marine Corps. In the course of his career, Rocky went from being a pilot, to a Squadron Commander to directing the activities of thousands of Marines and civilian personnel. After retiring from military service, Rocky spent four years in the defense sector, assisting their support of the U.S. Marine Corps, providing expert guidance and coordination.

Rocky was then recruited for a top leadership position with the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, serving as its Director of Administration and Public Administration. For three years Rocky worked as Chief Operating Officer of the Department, overseeing all operational functions, conducting strategic planning, and leading all special projects.

In 2002, Rocky earned a promotion to lead the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs as its Executive Director. During Rocky’s five years of leadership, the Department designed, constructed and staffed three new state veterans’ nursing homes; designed, constructed and dedicated the Florida World War II Memorial and monument; and led the Departments initiatives to enhance programs to identify, contact and support severely wounded service members for the Global War on Terror. Under his administration, the Department multiplied by a factor of five from a $15M annual operation to over a $76 million operation. Moreover, Rocky earned a reputation for running a lean, effective, and waste-free operation. Every dollar spent required maximum returned value for the veterans and citizens of the State of Florida. Rocky McPherson led the way.

Following his tenure as head of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Rocky was hired by Enterprise Florida, Inc. in 2007 to serve as its Vice President of Military and Defense Programs. In this role, Rocky is responsible for five major state programs in support of the military and defense industry in Florida, including the Florida Defense Alliance and the Florida Defense Support Task Force. For the past eight years, Rocky has been driving force in keeping Florida’s in the forefront as the most military and veteran-friendly state in the Nation. His tireless efforts have produced sustained and tangible results indicative of his unparalleled selfless service.

Furthermore, Rocky has established a legacy of building dedicated teams of public servants, and mentoring and inspiring future leaders, which a force-multiplier of benefit to the citizens, service members and veterans of the State of Florida. I have the good fortune to work with many professional men and women who Rocky hired, trained and energized who bring value every day to their public service for the State.

In sum, Colonel Warren McPherson has devoted his life to public service. Whether it was serving almost 30 years in the United States Marine Corps or his 16 years of service to advocating for veterans and Florida’s military communities and defense industry. Rocky epitomizes what it means to serve the public and stands as an exemplary candidate worthy of selection and induction into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame.

Education and Training Accomplishments.

  • National War College, National Defense University, Washington, F.C.
  • Masters of Political Science, Auburn University
  • Air Force Command and Staff College
  • Bachelor of Science, Engineering, U.S Naval Academy
  • Total Quality Management Senior Leaders Seminar, Department of the Navy
  • Equal Opportunity Seminar for Flag Officers/SES, Department of Defense

Professional Employment History.

  • Commissioned Officer, United States Marine Corps, 1966-1995.
  • National War College, Fort McNair (1984). Masters level course in Strategic Studies and International Affairs
  • Squadron Commander, Marine All Weather Attack Squadron (1985-1986). Led USMC carrier-based A6E squadron aboard USS Ranger (CV-61). Planned and executed multiple deployments and training exercises,
  • Deputy Wing Operations Officer, USMC Aircraft Wing, El Toro, California (1986-1987). Planned and supervised Wing level training and operations for more than 400 tactical jet and helicopter aircraft. Managed multi-million dollar annual training budget markedly improving training schedules in times of decreasing resources.
  • Group Commander, Marine Aviation Training Group (1987-1990). Planned and executed military and aviation training for two types of tactical jet aircraft to include hands-on flight instruction in both aircraft maintenance training and the full range of command leadership responsibilities, to include assignment and review of aircraft accident investigations.
  • Chief of Staff/Executive Director (1990-1993). Principal consultant, advisor, and strategic planner as Chief of Staff of 25,000 Marine force. Supervised major military and civilian personnel, operational, administrative, training and logistical activities and directly assisted three different Commanding Generals with policy formulation. Coordinated the interaction of four separate high level staffs toward common goals and objectives. Held budgetary and supervisory responsibilities for operations exceeding $50 million and for the execution of a 20% reduction by decreasing size and scope of training operations. Developed and executed plans for actual crisis events and multiple annual military exercises in the Pacific Theater.
  • Human Resources Management (1993-1995). Deputy Director of the U.S. Marine Corps Personnel Management Division. Responsible for all personnel actions relative to assignment, retention, promotion, separation, retirement, and maintenance of personnel records for more than 174,000 Marines. Coordinated the staff interaction and personnel management policies across a full spectrum of career administrative requirements to include regular liaison with legal and investigative agencies. Held budgetary and supervisory responsibilities for multi­ million dollar accounts with a focus on budget development, cost control and program savings.
  • Becket Consulting, Inc., Falls Church, VA, 1995. Business Reengineering Consultant. o Site Project Coordinator with project management, personnel management and business development responsibilities. Contributed to numerous USMC concept development reports.
  • Systems Research and Applications, International, Senior Member of the Professional Staff, Arlington, VA, 1995-1999.
  • SRA Site Manager, Quantico Office, USMC BPR/TQL Program. On-site project coordination of Business Process Reengineering projects within the USMC Enterprise BPR program.
  • Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Director of Administration and Public Information, St. Petersburg, FL, 1999-2002.
  • Though titled Director of Administration, effectively served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Department.
  • Led all administrative and public information programs, including strategic planning, legislative budget requests, personnel management, purchasing and contracting, staff development and training, and budget execution,
  • Led all Department special projects, including State Veterans’ Nursing Home grants and construction, Bushnell National Cemetery expansion, Nursing Home site selection team, South Florida National Cemetery site selection, numerous veteran’s memorial projects and ceremonies, and liaison with various state veterans’ organizations.
  • Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Executive Director, St. Petersburg, FL, 2002-2007.
  • Led the Florida state Veterans’ Department Senior Management Team in all aspects of strategic planning and operational execution of this state agency for five years.
  • Successfully led efforts to markedly enhance Florida’s programs and provisions in Florida Statutes concerning veterans.
  • Oversaw the significant expansion of the Florida State Veterans Homes program, adding three new facilities to the department capabilities, including the design and construction, staffing and initial operation of these new veterans’ homes,
  • Led the legislatively directed design, construction and dedication of the Florida World War II Memorial and monument.
  • Initiated and led the department efforts to enhance federal and state programs to identify, contact and support returning severely wounded service members for the Global War on Terror.
  • Oversaw the growth of the Florida Veterans’ Department from a $15M annual operation to one of over $76M with a focus on expanding healthcare operations through heavily subsidized federal programs. Enterprise Florida, Inc., Vice President, Military and Defense Programs, Tallahassee, FL 2007-present.
  • Responsible for five major state programs in support of the military and defense industry in Florida.
  • Plans and organizes the efforts of voluntary leadership of the Florida Defense Alliance (FDA) which supports local community efforts to enhance relationships with their major military installations, and which provides a significant networking and issue generation forum to maintain Florida as the most military friendly state in the Nation.
  • Plans and organizes support to the Florida Defense Support Task Force which is chartered to protect, preserve and enhance the military value of the 20 major military installations in our state.
  • Ensures Florida continues to deal with the declining DOD budget and the possibility of a new round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) in 2017 or 2019.
  • Oversees the operation of the decades old Florida Defense Grant programs which provides state resources to local defense communities for installation support and mutually beneficial infrastructure projects.
  • Works with local Defense Alliance organizations, local Chamber of Commerce Military Advisory Committees, and with local Economic Development Councils in support of the military and defense industry statewide,
  • Coordinates state level outreach to increase awareness of the scope and scale of the federal military presence in Florida, and of the contribution of the defense industry to the economy of our State.
  • Oversees the bi-annual research project to define the economic impact of the military and defense industry in Florida, and the publication of the Florida Defense Factbook.
  • Also supports the FDSTF annual publication detailing the existing Florida Statutes which assist and benefit active duty military. National Guard, and Reserves and their families in Florida.
  • Oversees administration and functioning of a major Washington, DC advocacy contract supporting Florida’s congressional delegation efforts regarding military and defense.

 Nominee’s Advocacy on Behalf of Veterans.

  • Vice President, Military and Defense Programs, 2007-present
  • Florida Defense Alliance, 2007- Present
  • Florida Defense Support Task Force, 2007- present
  • Executive Director, Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, 2002-2007
  • Director of Administration and Public Information, Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, 1999-2002

Nominees Civic Activities and Contributions.

  • Tutor, American Government, East Lake High School
  • Mentor, East Lake High School
  • Tallahassee Chapter MOAA Scholarship Foundation Chairman
  • National War College Alumni Association
  • US Naval Academy Alumni Association Life Member
  • Marine Corps Association
  • Marine Corps Aviation Association
  • Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)

Awards and Honors.

  • Legion of Merit with 1 Star
  • Bronze Star with Valor
  • Meritorious Service Medal with 1 Star
  • Air Medal with Strike Flight, #6 and 1 Star
  • Combat Action Ribbon
  • Presidential Unit Citation
  • Navy Commendation Medal with 1 Star and Combat V
  • Air Force commendation Medal
  • Navy Unit Commendation
  • Meritorious Unit Commendation with 1 Star
  • National Defense Service Medal with 1 Star
  • Vietnam Service Medal with 4 Stars
  • Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with 2 Stars
  • Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry
  • Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal