JAVA Blog 

JAVA Welcomes Colonel Julia Coxen

03 Oct 2020 4:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Colonel Julia Coxen

Wade Ishimoto

JAVA is pleased to welcome Colonel Julia Coxen as a new member.  Julia graciously took the time to share some of the highlights in her remarkable life and to provide some thoughts for today’s youth as they prepare for the future.

Julia’s parents immigrated from Korea in 1969 and took up residence in Pine Brook, NJ, where Julia and her siblings were born and raised.  They taught her the value of hard work in life and in school.  Her academic credentials are amazing.  She received her Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Systems Engineering with a minor in Music from the University of Pennsylvania. During her Army career she received two Master of Science degrees from Columbia University with one being in Operations Research and the other in Engineering and Management Systems.  Julia is currently working on her PhD from the University of Michigan in Industrial and Operations Engineering.  Her dissertation will be on taking a risk analysis and data-driven approach to combating human trafficking.

Out of both curiosity and the opportunity to receive a scholarship, Julia joined the Army ROTC program at the University of Pennsylvania.  During her Junior year and after completion of the ROTC Summer Camp that is a prerequisite to commissioning, she graduated from the Army’s Airborne school.  Coincidentally, Julia and Kay Wakatake are active duty Army Colonels and JAVA members who are airborne qualified.   Julia was a Distinguished Military Graduate and joined the Army’s Signal Corps. 

She completed a tour in Korea with the 304th Signal Battalion and then was assigned to Fort Bragg, NC, with the 82nd Airborne Division.  She deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.  Upon her return to Fort Bragg, she was a Battalion Operations Officer supporting troops deploying to Iraq.  It was during her time with the 82nd Airborne that she decided to remain in the Army as she was taken with the quality of soldiers that she worked with and the challenges that being in the Army presented.

At her Captain’s Career Course, Julia was the Honor Graduate and also received the Kilborne Leadership Award.  That was followed by a second tour to Korea and then her attendance at Columbia University.  After receiving her two Master’s degrees, she was assigned to the United States Military Academy at West Point where she became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Systems Engineering. She showed her compassion for the cadets at West Point by being the Officer-in-Charge of three cadet clubs, advising the Korean American club, and being the Officer Representative for the Women’s Soccer team. 

Her tour at West Point was followed by an astounding eight-year assignment with a United States Special Operations Command unit at Fort Belvoir, VA.  COL Coxen served under four commanders of the unit with the first one being Bryan Fenton who is now a Lieutenant General and the Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense.  Her leadership skills were displayed by commanding a systems control company, as the head recruiter responsible for finding unique officers and non-commissioned officers for specialized and dangerous duties, and as the first woman selected to command the Group Support Battalion in its 40 years of existence. Her intellect was also put to great use through her initiatives on special communications, data mining, transforming logistical applications, advanced data analytics and data ecosystems.  She co-led the Joint Special Operations Command’s Data initiative forging academic and industry partnerships and interagency efforts. She was one of the 50 finalists out of 18,000 applicants to become an Astronaut.  Although she was not selected to become an astronaut, the Army recognized her superior talents by selecting her for the PhD program at the University of Michigan.  Upon award of her PhD, Julia will be assigned again to West Point.  This time she was selected as a PUSMA (Professor U.S. Military Academy) and the Deputy Head of the Department of Systems Engineering.

Julia and her husband Craig are the proud parents of 6-year-old Grace and 2-year-old Gabriel.  Craig is a management consultant in the health care industry that gives him the latitude to work almost anywhere that Julia may be assigned. 

Colonel Coxen reflected back on her 22 years in the Army to date.  She views her service as but a small payback for the opportunities that America gave to her parents, herself, and her siblings and for America’s commitment to fight oppression world-wide.  She has thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to serve with what she considers to be phenomenal world-class leaders, for the flexibility in assignments, and the exciting nature of the challenges in the military.  In addition to encouraging today’s youth to consider serving in the military, she shared a piece of advice … "Don’t settle for an easy life, make good use of that hard earned grit and work ethic – you will find it to be infinitely rewarding!"

JAVA is honored to welcome Colonel Julia Coxen as a member. On a personal note, as a long-time advisor to the U.S. Special Operations Command unit to which Colonel Coxen was assigned, I can attest to the absolutely highest regard that Julia Coxen's commanders, peers, and subordinates have for her.  She is one of a kind!  Welcome aboard!

The Coxen Family. Photo: COL Julia Coxen.

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