Joe M. has been a loyal patient of mine for many years. He has followed me from where I practiced in Woodbury, Saint Paul, and then Chaska over the past 15 years. As Veteran’s Day approached, I reﬂected on Joe’s loyalty not only as a patient but as a dedicated service member. I asked if we could honor him with a Veteran’s Day feature about his military experience. Thank you, Joe, for your conﬁdence in me as your dentist all these years and for your dedicated military service! It’s been a pleasure! In honoring him, here is Joe’s story.
The following is an account of Joe’s military experience.
In 1964 I was attending the University of North Dakota when I made the decision to apply for a high paying construction job on the missile sites being installed across the northern part of the United States. I was hired and worked there approximately one year before being drafted into the US Army as a result of the Vietnam conflict.
My Army training was for Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Warfare. I was to be located in an underground command bunker calculating the duration of ill effects of enemy nuclear detonations on the battlefield. This military occupational skill was dealt away in the arms treaty negotiations with Russia at which time I was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division supply field. I was a battalion supply sergeant getting units ready to ship out to Vietnam.
After my tour of duty with the Army, I joined the North Dakota Air National Guard and was trained as a Weapons Systems Specialist and Weapons Loading Crew Chief. One of my duties was being in charge of the most dangerous operation in the Air Force. This involved a fighter interceptor aircraft returning from combat, having expended its weapons and fuel, then in one simultaneous operation, the aircraft was refueled and reloaded with nuclear weapons while it was running. This was referred to as the Integrated Combat Turnaround Load. My final position was State Command Chief Master Sergeant. There are only 50 of these positions, one in each state. In this position I was liaison to the base commander regarding the health, morale, and welfare of a 1000 enlisted men and women. I was also a member of the Joint Executive Council of North Dakota which consisted of the top two general officers the top NCO of each service and the adjutant general which did long term planning and attended conferences across the US.
In total, I have 34 years of combined service in the Army and Air Force and I am a lifetime member of the Enlisted Association of the United States.
My service resulted in supervisory experience, understanding, and consideration of others, especially those that reported to me and most importantly maintaining of composure in extreme combat conditions.
An interesting sidelight of my service was that on 11 September 2001, our unit had been assigned to fill an alert commitment at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia while they were undergoing a change in aircraft. The result of which was, when alert at that base was called up on that fateful day, the first fighter interceptors over Washington DC were F-16’s from the North Dakota Air National Guard and would have been the planes to shoot down the hi-jacked airliner on its way to Washington DC had they not crashed in Pennsylvania.