First African American Battalion Commander 39th Support Battalion, 39th Infantry Brigade

Colonel (COL) Sherman Tate:

COL Tate was born in Marvell, Arkansas. He graduated from Marvell High School in 1963. After graduating from High School, COL Tate enrolled into Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1970, he graduated from Philander Smith with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology.

COL Tate’s stellar military career began in 1966-1968 when he was drafted into the United States Army. After completing Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training in 1967, he was ordered to Vietnam. While in Vietnam, he was later assigned near the Laotian border during the 1968 Tet Offensive. From September 6, 1968, to September 14, 1972, COL Tate served in the U.S. Army Reserve Control Group as a Sergeant E5. He later served in the U.S. Army Reserve as Sergeant First Class E7, Physical Security NCO.

On March 5, 1981, COL Tate started his outstanding military journey in the Arkansas Army National Guard. He received a Direct Appointment to the rank of Captain and commissioned in the Adjutant General Corps Branch. His first assignment was State Area Command (STARC), Arkansas Army National Guard, Camp J.T. Robinson. COL Tate was reassigned to Company A (Admin), 39th Support Battalion, 39th Infantry Brigade as the Company Executive Officer. In 1983, he was appointed as Company Commander, Co A (Admin), 39th Support Battalion. On February 5, 1988, COL Tate was appointed as the Battalion S1, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 39th Support Battalion in Hazen, Arkansas.

COL Tate was reassigned to STARC (-), Arkansas Army National Guard from August 1, 1988, to July 29, 1990, and served in various duty positions such as Personnel Officer, Mobilization Plans Officer, and Chief Readiness/Force Integration Officer. On July 8, 1990, he was reassigned to HHC (-), 39th Infantry Brigade and served as the Recruiting and Retention/Equal Opportunity Officer. COL Tate was appointed as S1 for the 39th Infantry Brigade on July 1, 1991, and later selected as the Battalion Executive Officer for HHC (-), 39th Support Battalion. On September 1, 1994, COL Tate was assigned as Battalion Commander, HHC, 39th Support Battalion, 39th Infantry Brigade. COL Tate was the first African American assigned as Battalion Commander in the history of the 39th Support Battalion.

On August 3, 1996, COL Tate served as the Brigade Executive Officer for HHC, 39th Infantry Brigade, Little Rock. He later served as the Deputy Commander, Installation Support Unit, Camp Robinson, and Supply Management Officer, STARC (-), Arkansas Army National Guard.

COL Tate’s military education includes the Officers Management Course, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Adjutant General Officer Advanced Course, New Port News, Virginia and the Command and General Staff Course, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal (2), Army Achievement Medal (6), Meritorious Service Medal (3), National Defense Service Medal (2), Good Conduct Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal (3), Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Arkansas Distinguished Service Medal, and the Arkansas Service Medal. Additionally, COL Tate participated in the Vietnam Tet Counteroffensive Operations phase I through phase V. COL Tate retired from the military with over 30 years of distinguished service.

He started his civilian career immediately after graduating from college. He was hired by the consulting firm, General Behavioral Systems. He then went to work for the Arkansas Office of Personnel Management in 1972 as a personnel analyst. He subsequently worked for the Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research where he was the personnel director of the State Legislative Council, making him their first African American employee.

In 1974, COL Tate was hired by the University of Arkansas, Little Rock to develop and manage the office of non-academic personnel. At the request of Governor David Pryor, COL Tate returned to the Arkansas Office of Personnel Management and became the first African American to manage this department.

In 1980, he was named director of personnel for Arkla Gas Company’s Arkansas Division, making him the first African American in a management position at the company. He was later promoted to Vice President of consumer and community relations, then Vice President of marketing; and two years later, he became Vice President of distribution and operations.

COL Tate joined Alltel Corporation in 1998 as Vice President and General Manager of operations, where he was responsible for human and fiscal resources for Alltel’s telephone operations in Arkansas and Mississippi. He also served as President of the local telephone company and Vice President of external affairs for Alltel until the company was acquired by Verizon in 2009.

With Verizon, he served as Vice President from 2009 to 2011 and was responsible for legislative, regulatory, and public policy issues in Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio. In 2011, COL Tate left Verizon and established two management consulting firms, the Domino Effect and HT & Associates, now a part of the holding company Tate & Associates.

COL Tate was also the first African American to be elected chairman of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce in 1989 and has since served on numerous boards including for Philander Smith College, St. Vincent Health System, the United Negro College Fund, and the Pulaski County Facilities Board. Additionally, he served on the board of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Chairman of both, the Southern Bancorp Bank Governing Board, and the Urban League of the State of Arkansas. In 2017, COL Tate was nominated and selected to the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame. He is also a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. COL Tate currently resides in Little Rock.