Colonel Philip A. Bossert, USAF (retired), 54 was born on July 6, 1959 in Queens, New York to Phil Sr. and Virginia Bossert. He grew up in Massapequa, New York with his siblings, David, Caroline and Alison. His childhood on Long Island is where his passion for his Catholic faith, hard work, selflessness, and service began. Phil loved all things Long Island: swimming at Jones Beach, eating All American Knishes, and long runs at Tackapausha Park. His commitment to excellence started at the age of 12, when as a paperboy for Newsday; Phil won a contest signing up the most new subscriptions. The prize was an airplane ride over Long Island in a small Cesena. His love of flying was born. At the age of 14, he moved on from Newsday to become a bus boy at Dick & Dora’s, a famous Italian restaurant on Long Island’s south shore. While working at Dick & Dora’s, he was able to save up enough money to earn his private pilot’s license and to buy his first car. Also at the age of 14, Phil earned his Eagle Scout award with Troop 5. A hero in the making.
After graduating from Massapequa High School in 1977, Phil attended The Mallard Prep School in Bandon, Oregon on a Falcon Foundation Scholarship. He then received an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. In June of 1982, Phil graduated with a B.S. in International Studies from the Air Force Academy. He was a distinguished military graduate. After attending undergraduate pilot training at Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Texas, Phil went on to become a command pilot with 3,900 hours of flying time including combat time as a C-141 airlift pilot during Operations JUST CAUSE and DESERT STORM. During his twenty-eight years on active duty in the United States Air Force, he also had extensive experience in various command, joint, and multinational assignments. His assignments took him all around the globe. He holds Master’s degrees in Economics, Military Studies, Strategic Studies, and Public Administration from Old Dominion University, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the U.S. Air War College, and Auburn University respectively. He also served on the faculties of the Air Force Academy and the University of Houston, was a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, has published 97 articles, book reviews, editorials, two books and was currently in the process of working on his third book about his three deployments to Afghanistan.
Three weeks after retiring from the USAF in October 2010, he deployed a third and last time to Kabul as a civilian advisor to the Afghan Ministry of Defense. He was assigned to the NATO training mission at Camp Eggers and taught 30 senior Afghan generals and colonels, how to develop a three-year, $15 billion defense budget. His planned sixteen-month assignment was cut short by one month when he was medically evacuated on January 29th, 2012 with a brain tumor. Three days later it was removed at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. His initial recovery was so successful and rapid that he was called a medical miracle and continued that reputation with his follow-on treatments at MD Anderson. In December 2012, just 9 months after his diagnosis and surgery, Phil ran the Dallas half marathon with his son, Andrew as well as 5K and 10K races with both Andrew and his daughter Stephanie.
Phil spent his last few months working on his newly founded company Civil-Military (CM) Leadership Seminars, LLC, a service-disabled, veteran owned small business that was set to begin offering seminars on leadership in March 2014. Phil’s passion to write and speak on leadership, strategic planning, transformational change, his Catholic faith, Afghanistan, and military affairs are what led to his founding of CM Leadership Seminars.
Phil battled glioblastoma/brain cancer for 20 months. Many admired his determination and the strength he exhibited. On October 3, 2013, Phil passed away after a strong, hard fought battle with his wife, Anita, and their two children, Andrew and Stephanie at his side. A funeral mass will be held on October 17 at the United States Air Academy Chapel, Colorado Springs, Colorado, followed by a burial at the Air Force Academy Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at Mary Queen Catholic Church in Friendswood, Texas in early November to honor Phil. In lieu of flowers, his family asks that donations be made to The Wounded Warrior Project at woundedwarriorproject.org.