From the center of Texas to the heart of southwest Minnesota farmland and then to the Pacific Northwest– with detours through Kentucky, Mississippi, Saudi Arabia and Iraq—retiring 104th Division (LT) Deputy Command Judge Advocate Maj. Fred Inman has been, and continues to be, a classic American putting public service before himself throughout his career.
“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy
Born in Brownwood, Texas and growing up in Mankato, Minnesota, Maj. Inman early on set out for a career in public service. When he graduated from high school in 1978, Maj. Inman started college while driving an ambulance to pay his way. From 1978 until 1996, Maj. Inman earned and maintained his qualifications as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). However, while driving an ambulance, he quickly saw that law enforcement officers seemed to get to the scenes faster and their jobs appeared more exciting. Maj. Inman quickly changed up his educational goals: he left his university studies to enroll in Alexandria Technical Institute in Minnesota, obtaining his two-year law enforcement associate’s degree. From 1983 until 1990, Maj. Inman worked for several small town police departments in Minnesota.
One of his favorite memories from those years was a call where he responded to back up a state trooper on a drunk driving call: there was snow on the ground and the driver had driven off the road, losing the vehicle’s drive train in the process. When the trooper walked up to the car, he knocked on the driver’s window. The driver looked up at the officers with a shocked expression. Moments later, the driver’s expression switched to something more determined, pressing the accelerator, ignoring the officers. The driver, intoxicated to the degree that he believed the car was actually moving, turned to laugh with his passenger and then turned to look back out the driver’s side window– only to see the trooper “running” alongside the car. The trooper continued to move his feet like he was running while the drunk driver pressed the accelerator harder. In return, the trooper, after saying “watch this” to then- Officer Inman, picked up the pace “running”. The driver was eventually taken into custody without much effort.
Law enforcement is long periods of the mundane and unexciting, punctuated by moments of humor, but also the bizarre and sheer terror. During those slower moments, Maj. Inman realized he really wanted a career in pre-hospital emergency medical care. He enlisted in the United States Army Reserve in 1987 as an infantry medic. Two years later, then-Spc. Inman switched to the Minnesota National Guard to become a flight medic. In 1990, Maj. Inman volunteered to deploy as an active duty medic for Desert Shield-Desert Storm. Assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, then-Pfc. Inman (as the active duty component did not recognize National Guard rank, NG Sgt. Inman became active component PFC Inman) deployed to Saudi Arabia early on during the conflict. Serving as a flight medic, Pfc. Inman participated in the largest air assault mission in the history of the United States Army: Blackhawks flying 65 miles behind enemy lines to set up a forward operating base (FOB) and setting an entire battalion on the ground in a single twenty-four hour period.
Back at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky in February 1993, an unexpectedly severe snow storm hit the Great Smoky Mountains. In a 24-hour period, ten feet of snow accumulated in an area unused to getting more than a dusting of snow. As a result, many people—including 180 high school students from Michigan on a winter backpacking trip—were stranded in dire circumstances. Sgt. Inman’s unit mobilized for search and rescue, eventually rescuing 104 stranded hikers and two dogs using helicopters and rescue hoists.
By 1994, Maj. Inman had left active duty and returned to the Minnesota National Guard, finishing his four-year college degree in Social Philosophy at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He then attended and graduated William Mitchell College of Law with his juris doctorate (law) degree in 2000.
During these years, Maj. Inman tried to avoid his destiny by leaving military service in 1996. However, one day after he entered his lawyering years as a prosecutor, then-Mr. Inman went to a Lions Club lunch where the speaker was the two-star Minnesota Adjutant General (TAG). The general remembered flying with the former Sgt. Inman and commented “What are you doing out in Minnesota in a suit?” Whatever then-Mr. Inman answered, the general turned to his major aide-de-camp and said “Get this man in my Army.” It obviously did not take much to bring Maj. Inman back into military service: in June 2001, Maj. Inman re-enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard. After four years as an enlisted lawyer, then-Staff Sgt. Inman commissioned as a first lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG).
In 2005, then-Cpt. Inman found himself far from his Minnesota roots in Ramadi, Iraq. In his first deployment as a JAG, Maj. Inman served as the Trial Counsel (prosecutor) with the Pennsylvania National Guard 28th Infantry Division. In 2009-2010, then-Cpt. Inman returned to Iraq, serving as an Operations Law Attorney for Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I). In this position, then-Cpt. Inman was the driving force on the Forensics Joint Planning Team, directly contributing to a plan that enhanced the Iraqi forensics capacity throughout the country–demonstrating the flexibility, resiliency and broad-based skills of JAGs Army-wide.
In between deployments, Maj. Inman was assigned at Ft. Lewis I Corps Office of the Staff Judge Advocate (OSJA) from 2006-2012. During that time, he served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for Western District Court of Washington (SAUSA) and Acting Chief of the I-Corps OSJA Federal Litigation Division.
Maj. Inman assessed to the U.S. Army Reserve, Active Guard Reserve (AGR) in July 2012. As an AGR, Maj. Inman’s first assignment was with USARC Office of the Staff Judge Advocate as a Military Justice Judge Advocate. He was then assigned to the 412th Theater Engineer Command in Vicksburg, Mississippi, as the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate. And, finally, he was assigned to the 104th Division (Leader Training) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as the Maj. Inman immediately says, “I didn’t know anything about a training division when I was assigned.” But he quickly learned to appreciate and admire the history of the 104th and what the division stands for, it’s Pacific Northwest lineage making it more interesting. Anyone who asks Maj. Inman will be educated about the 104th Nightfighters—who, in the last months of the World War II, fought the Germans under cover of nightfall using empty rifles, bayonets and grenades with successful outcomes.
Maj. Inman is married to Teresa, a retail buyer for state and national park gift shops. He has two adult sons and an adult step-daughter, with six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. With 28 years of service behind him, Maj. Inman says that the first thing he plans to do is “unpack”. He is looking forward to fully moving into their home in Sequim, Washington and spending more time following his passions: kayaking and hiking. He will continue as a kayak leader and instructor with the Olympia Mountaineers.
Soldier first, lawyer always! And a great public servant!