Lieutenant Colonel Chester “Chet” W. Sutphen is a native of Clifton, New Jersey and a 1975 graduate of Clifton Senior High School. He was an outstanding football player and track star. Chet entered the University of Rhode Island in the fall of 1975 and enrolled in the four-year Army ROTC program. He was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. In May 1979, Chet graduated from URI with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry.
His initial assignment was at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia where he completed the Infantry Officer’s Basic Course, Airborne School and the Ranger Course. Second Lieutenant Sutphen was then assigned to the 82d Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina as an Infantry Platoon Leader, Reconnaissance Platoon Leader and Company Commander of the Combat Support Company. After two years with the 82d Airborne Division, First Lieutenant Sutphen volunteered for the US Army Special Forces.
After successfully completing Special Forces Training, Lieutenant Sutphen was assigned as Commander, Operational Detachment A-Team, 5th Special Forces Group and deployed to a critical overseas mobile training mission in Eastern Africa. As an A-Team Commander and counterpart to Egyptian Colonel Mostafa El Shinawi, Lieutenant Sutphen performed in an outstanding manner. His leadership and diplomatic abilities instilled confidence in his Egyptian counter-parts. His performance was praised by leaders of the host nation and the American Embassy.
In 1986, Captain Sutphen left active duty and returned to Rhode Island joining the U.S. Army Reserve, 98th Infantry Division, 76th Maneuver Training Command where he served as an Instructor/Trainer for the Army National Guard and Army Reserve units. He was responsible for training over sixty U.S. Army officers over four years in leadership, problem solving, staff functions and organizational skills as an instructor of the Command and General Staff College.
Recalled to active duty in 2004, Lieutenant Colonel Sutphen deployed to Iraq in support of Iraqi Freedom II and III. He served with the Multi-National Security Transition Command. Attached to the U.S. Marine Corps Area of Operation in the city of Fallujah, Lieutenant Colonel Sutphen planned and executed Staff Officer Training Plans for Iraqi Brigade and Battalion Officers located in the An Bar Province of Iraq.
As part of the training/advisory mission, his team conducted combat operations with the Iraqi Security Forces. As a result of his team’s outstanding performance, other Multi-National Security Training Teams sought his advice on how to improve their training programs. His dedication, bravery and professionalism were directly responsible for the successful accomplishment of improving Iraqi Security Forces within the enemy infested area of the An Bar Province.
Lieutenant Colonel Sutphen was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his outstanding combat service. Lieutenant Colonel Sutphen returned from Iraq and continued serving his country in the 78th Infantry Division in leadership positions until his retirement in January 2006 after 24 years of service to our nation and the U.S. Army. In addition to the Bronze Star Medal, his awards include: the Meritorious Service Medal with One Oak Leaf Cluster, Humanitarian Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal and the Army Commendation Medal with One Oak Leaf Cluster.
Lieutenant Colonel Sutphen continues to support his community and the University of Rhode Island. He is a mentor to Iraqi combat-disabled veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorders injuries as a member of the Wounded Warrior Program. He actively supports the University of Rhode Island Foundation, Sigma Chi Fraternity URI fund and the Green Beret Foundation which provides college scholarships to the children of Special Forces’ soldiers killed in combat.
Lieutenant Colonel Sutphen continues to serve his nation and community. His accomplishments reflect great credit upon himself, his family and the University of Rhode Island.