As a kid, Peter Mansoor watched too many John Wayne movies. But it was these movies that led him to serve his country.
U.S. Army Col. Mansoor grew up in the suburbs of Sacramento, Calif. He remembers a childhood filled with backyard barbecues, winter ski trips and summer camping vacations.
In high school, he played four years of varsity football as a defensive back and receiver, served as student body president and graduated valedictorian of his class.
Mansoor went on to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he initially studied civil engineering. During his second year, he took an advanced military history course, which piqued his academic interests. He graduated top of his class in 1982.
In his long-standing military career, Mansoor has served in a variety of command and staff positions in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. He attended graduate school at Ohio State and taught military history at West Point. He is nationally known as a decorated officer with more than 26 years of military service.
Before coming to OSU in September 2008, Mansoor served as executive officer to Gen. David Petraeus, then-commander of the multinational forces in Iraq. He now serves as the Raymond E. Mason Jr. chair in military history at OSU. His position is a joint appointment between the Mershon Center for International Security Studies and the Department of History.
Mansoor said the position sounded intriguing when he heard about the opening.
“I was on leave from my second tour in Iraq when my Ph.D. adviser asked if I was interested in applying for the (Raymond E. Mason Jr.) chair at Ohio State. It was something I hadn’t even considered, but wanted to look into,” Mansoor said. “Talk about a curve ball coming in from right field. One thing led to another, and I ended up coming back to Ohio with my wife and family.”
Mansoor teaches military history courses at the undergraduate and graduate level.
Peter Hahn, the Department of History chair, said in an e-mail that Mansoor’s courses are popular among undergraduate students.
“His undergraduate course on the history of World War II is among our most popular courses,” Hahn said. “Students find him an engaging and compelling lecturer.”
Hahn said Mansoor projects a favorable image for the university.
“Professor Mansoor brings our department a mastery of military history. He is also constantly in the public eye, as Congress, the Pentagon, and all of the major media are constantly seeking his insights on current challenges facing the country. In every interview I have heard, and there have been many, he represents himself well and projects a very favorable image on Ohio State,” Hahn said.
Richard Herrmann, director for the Mershon Center, said in an e-mail that Mansoor also brings rare qualities and experiences to his position at OSU.
“Professor Mansoor brings on-the-ground experience with combat and personal involvement in high level strategic planning and decision-making. He combines with this first-hand experience the training and inclinations of a professional historian. It is an unusual combination,” Herrmann said.
According to the 2009-2010 annual report by the Mershon Center, Mansoor remains an important figure in public discussion about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mansoor has made TV and radio appearances on CNN, CBC, Al Jazeera English, NPR and “60 Minutes.” Mansoor has also been interviewed by The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Associated Press.
Mansoor and his family live in a neighboring suburb Dublin and are planting their feet in Columbus for the long haul.
“I am thrilled to be here and I plan to retire as a Buckeye,” Mansoor said. “Ohio State feels like home now.”