Army Lt. Colonel Ernst “Max” Von Arnswaldt Stationed In Iraq Has Allegheny Highlands Connections

Middlebrook, VA – Lt. Colonel Ernst von Arnswaldt, U.S. Army Reserve, who is “Max” to family and friends, grew up in Bath County Virginia. He has been on active duty in Iraq since March of this year. I had the opportunity to speak with him by phone recently as part of the Army’s “hometown interview” program. Lt. Colonel von Arnswaldt talks about growing up in the Allegheny Highlands.

“My roots are in Williamsville, Virginia, in Bath County,” he says. “I grew up on a 900 acre farm there. My dad and mom bought that place in ’63 and we farmed there at the juncture of the Cowpasture and Bullpasture [rivers] for over 20 years.”

He goes on to describe the schools he attended.

“I went to one year of high school in the eighth grade at Bath County HS, and then I attended Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire for four years,” he says. “Then I went to Hampden-Sydney College, south of Farmville, for two years. Then I transferred to the University of Colorado where I graduated in 1987 with a Bachelors Degree in economics.”

“I also received my commission into the US Army as a 2nd Lieutenant after completing my ROTC curriculum at the University of Colorado.”

Lt. Col von Arnswaldt is married to Kelli Smith and has two young girls, Isabel, age 4 and Layla who just had her first birthday a few months ago. Kelli’s father Delmer Smith is from the Little Egypt area of Highland County and her mother, Kay, is from Bolar. Relatives in Highland County include Kelli’s aunt Linda Johnston and her husband David. Max and Kelli have a farm in Middlebrook, Virginia, in Augusta County.

“I purchased that in 1997 when I finished up a six year career in the oil exploration business where I worked overseas in West Africa and in South America and in the North Sea,” says von Arnswaldt.

When I mentioned the Highland County Fair, it brought back fond memories.

“Oh you’re making me jealous, I wish I was home for that,” he says. “That was always one of my biggest joys when I was growing up and still in Williamsville, getting to come up to the Highland Fair.”

In this era of rapid communication around the world, the Army provides good access to communication systems that help soldiers keep in touch with family members.

“It dampens the impact of being so far away a bit, getting to talk to Kelli and the girls every day,” he says. “It’s obviously not the same as being together, it’s hard to be far away from home and away from your loved ones, but that does bridge the gap a bit.”

Lt. Col von Arnswaldt asked that his regards be passed on to friends Paxton Grant and Byron Adams. Stay tuned later this week to hear more of Lt. Col von Arnswaldt from Iraq.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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