After serving 34 years in the North Dakota Army National Guard, Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Schuchard returned home to Jamestown from a deployment on Thursday — his last day of military service.
“It’s very good to be back,” said Schuchard, who served as the senior enlisted leader of the 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment that spent the last 12 months in Kosovo on a NATO peacekeeping operation.
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe which is divided into the Serbian-controlled North Kosovo and the Republic of Kosovo — which declared itself an independent state in 2008.
“It’s a pretty mountainous area. If I had to compare it, it’s about as big as the Canadian border to Fargo,” Schuchard said, describing the Kosovo geography and terrain.
While deployed, Schuchard said the Aviation Task Force, comprised of units from North Dakota, Wyoming, Wisconsin and New Jersey, provided aviation support to the mission of ensuring freedom of movement throughout Kosovo.
“We kept pretty busy out there hauling troops and supplies. We were flying Black Hawk helicopters on a medical mission,” he said. “It went really well — the people are actually very nice out there.”
According to a North Dakota Army National Guard press release, the Aviation Task Force flew more than 2,800 accident-free hours, transported more than 2,600 passengers and 238 tons of supplies and equipment, completed 30 Medevac missions to transport soldiers or contractors to a higher level of care and trained nearly 5,000 U.S. and multi-national soldiers on how to safely load and unload a lift and Medevac aircraft.
Schuchard was one of 55 soldiers who returned back to the area Thursday, with soldiers greeting family and friends in Oakdale, Minn., Fargo and Bismarck in addition to Jamestown.
When asked on Thursday what his next plans with the military are, Schuchard said, “I’m done for good — retiring.”
Schuchard, who worked for the Jamestown Armory for 18 years and was most recently working at the North Dakota Army National Guard Aviation Support Facility in Bismarck, said he’s looking forward to his retirement and taking a vacation.
“I’m going to take 20 days off for now. I’ve never had 20 days off before, so it should be good,” he said.
He said that during his retirement he would like to become involved with the Jamestown Parks and Recreation Department.
Schuchard is also going to enjoy not having to make a 200-mile round-trip commute to work.
“I live in Jamestown, so I’m looking forward to not having to drive back and forth between Bismarck each day.”
(c)2012 The Jamestown Sun (Jamestown, N.D.)
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