CORT’s assistant district general manager in San Francisco, Roger Bonte, joined the United States Army in 1986, because he had a sense of service for his country that was instilled by his parents at a young age. Roger’s parents experienced the atrocities of WWII firsthand and shared many stories about the tough times they endured. In fact, Roger’s father was held in a Japanese POW Camp for three and a half years, and his mother lived in the Netherlands when it was occupied by the Nazis.
In the late 80s, Roger left for basic training at Fort Bliss in Texas and advanced training as a combat medic at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. On active duty, he served domestically and internationally as a medic with Infantry units and even had the opportunity to be attached for a short period to Special Forces units rotating through Fort Stewart, Georgia. After leaving active duty in 1989, Roger joined the California Army National Guard, where he continued his service as a medic until he decided to attend Officer Candidate School. In 1991, Roger earned his commission and became an Infantry Officer serving at the Platoon, Company, and Battalion level until 1997.
Being in the military was particularly memorable for Roger, because he used every bit of his training as a medic to take care of multiple types of injuries, mainly parachute “jump” injuries where soldiers missed the Drop Zone (DZ). “No matter where I was taking care of my patients, it was very fulfilling to be the first one there to help them.” Another proud moment of his military career is when Roger transitioned from being an enlisted medic to an infantry officer.
During his service and leadership position in the military, Roger says he learned many things that he applies to his role at CORT every day, such as the ability to listen to the people working for you on the “front line;” the importance of leading from the front; and to set the example for others to emulate. Roger also believes in giving credit to those that deserve, but you also need to hold yourself and others accountable when a mistake is made and take immediate action to remedy the situation.
Lastly, Roger also believes you shouldn’t be so self-important that you can’t hear others around you.
Roger is thankful to have Michelle in his life and his awesome kids – three boys in college and a daughter in high school. His oldest just graduated this year and will be a high school History teacher and Air Force Reservist. Roger’s second son will graduate next year as a mechanical engineer, and his third son is in the Fire Academy to become a fireman. Roger’s daughter, and youngest child, is at the top of her class, a talented singer and is ranked 8th in the state as a water polo goalie.
Despite his amazing family, and military and civilian careers, Roger never forgets where he came from and all that his parents endured to give Roger a better life.
Roger, thank you for your service!