Bob and K-9 Shadow
I was born on January 22, 1949, in North Saint Paul Minnesota. I grew up on a small family farm in Bruno Minnesota. I graduated from Askov high school in 1967. On April 3, 1968, I took my draft physical, in May 1968, I decided to enlist in the army for two years. A two-year enlisted was considered the same as being drafted. I was not able to pick my MOS. May 31, 1968, I left for basic training at Fort Campbell Kentucky, my AIT was at Sandia Base in New Mexico. It was a top-secret base where atomic weapons were developed, designed and training. I was trained as a 53G 20 as a nuclear weapons maintenance repair man. I was there for 2 1/2 months. The base was so secret that they read outgoing mail to make sure no classified information was shared and what my MOS was. When I was in school, we were told that we would not be assigned to a combat area. After A I T in 1968, I was sent to the 8th army replacement Depot to be assigned to my duty station. I was sent to Camp Kaiser 7th infantry division 2nd squad 10th Calvary as an 11 D 20 Scout to patrol the DMZ zone in South Korea. Leave it to the army to send me to a top-secret school and when I got to my duty station, I became a scout. I was not trained to be a scout, but my fellow soldiers taught me the ropes. During the time I was stationed in South Korea, tensions were very high between the North and the South. During the period of 1965 to 1974, it was called the 2nd Korean War. North Koreans, South Koreans and American soldiers were killed during the skirmishes.
On December 31, 1969, I went back to Bruno MN and I worked in the U.S. Steele Plant for 3 ½ years. The plant closed down so I decided to go to the VoTECH at Pine City MN and used my GI Bill to train to become a machinist. During this time, I joined an Army Reserve in Cambridge MN as a Scout. Jobs were hard to find in the mid 70’s so I decided to become Active Duty Army. I had to repeat basic training again at Fort Knox KY. I also took my AIT there as an Armour Scout. I was sent back to South Korea for 13 months. I was in the CSC 72nd Armor Battalion. After South Korea I was sent to Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. In June 1978 I was sent to Germany. I patrolled the east Germany border. I was in the 3rd Infantry Division A Troop 3rd squad 7th Army cavalry. It was a very interesting time to be in Germany during the Cold War. I have pictures of the east German guards taking pictures of me. In June 1980, I was sent to Fort Ord, CA for out-processing for a hardship discharge for family reasons.
I was able to find a job as a machinist in Saint Paul Minnesota, but I missed the army. In 1991, I decided to join the Minnesota National Guard with a combat support 92nd Armor BN Virginia MN. I enlisted as an E5. In 1997 our unit was sent to Hohenfels Germany for a 3-week training mission to help prepare for the Bosnia mission.
In 2002 to 2003 our unit was doing training missions at Camp Ripley and Fort McCoy. I was in Bosnia for nine months as part of a peacekeeping mission and I arrived home in 2004. In 2005, I volunteered to go to Iraq, this was the biggest and longest deployment of any national guard state the 47th Infantry Division, the Big Red Bull. I was stationed at Scandia for 16 months. During this time, I was injured in a mortar attack on our base. My family asked me why I wanted to volunteer for this duty as I was 56 years old. I said I don’t want to see my grandchildren fighting the same war. Also, my dad and uncles were in World War II and I carried their pictures with me to remind me of what they went through. While in Iraq, I served as Acting Platoon Leader and Acting First SGT.
In 2008, I retired as a SFC from the MN ARNG.
I received numerous awards. The Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal for my service in Iraq. I also received other commendations while in the military.
My service in the military did not come without a cost. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and pre-diabetes from an exposure of agent orange during my first tour of duty in South Korea at the DMZ. During my time in Iraq, I developed PTSD. There were things I saw and being on constant guard of an attack that I will never forget. PTSD affected my day today life.
I am a widower. I met my wife Sonja, during my 1st tour of South Korea. It took over a year to get her and my son to Minnesota. We have three children, Bob, Helen, and Tony. And my son Bob was also in the MN ARNG for 6 years. He is currently working at Medtronic as a mechanic engineer. He helped develop a sensor in plan to control tremors for people that have Parkinson’s. My son was able to travel with me to San Francisco VA to watch the surgeons implant device in my brain. The surgeons were happy to meet with him. The implants are working great. The last four years I have experienced horrible losses. My daughter Helen committed suicide in May 2018, and she left behind two sons and a granddaughter. February 2021, my wife passed away from cancer in a month later my 14-year-old dog Roxie passed away. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to get a service dog. A dog gives such unconditional love and support. During my times of depression, I will have the comfort of a dog. I have four grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Both of my sons Tony and Bob spend time with me. I have land in Bruno and my son Tony built a hunting shack for us. I love being outdoors. I also keep busy. I was the commander of the American legion post in Bruno and the commander of the VFW near me. Before the pandemic I was a volunteer driving that’s going to the VA. I am excited for my new life with Shadow. We are going to make a great team.