The Belle Fourche Dschaak family may be an example of how today’s National Guard is a different creature than before the terrorist attacks of September 2001.
Sgt. 1st Class Brent Dschaak and son Jake are home with the 842nd Engineer Co. after a year in Afghanistan, but both are looking at some big changes.
It’s increasingly typical for National Guard soldiers in an era of overseas deployments and promotions that take senior people into different units instead of spending an entire Guard career in one unit in one community.
Brent, who had been full time with the National Guard at Belle Fourche and Spearfish armories with the 842nd will be moving to Huron with the 153rd Engineer Battalion headquarters where he will be readiness noncommissioned officer.
He’ll be taking not only his experience with the 842nd in the Northern Hills, but also experience in two overseas deployments to war zones.
Dschaak was with the 842nd in Iraq when the unit as a whole leveled ground for major bases and built or repaired roads in the country.
In Afghanistan he filled a number of positions ranging from handling logistical convoys as noncommissioned officer in charge to working with Afghanistan National Army people.
Capt. Allen Godsell, the officer who commanded the 842nd in Afghanistan and served with the unit as a new lieutenant in Iraq, said he hates seeing Dschaak leave the unit.
“We call him THE Dschaak,” Godsell said. “He is just a super man in his own right. There’s just an outstanding human being.”
“I actually hate to see him heading out to Battalion,” he said, adding that Dschaak definitely deserved his promotion last spring in Afghanistan.
Dschaak’s last four months in Afghanistan may have been one of the most difficult assignments for any American serving in that complex war zone.
“I worked as an advisor with the Afghan National Army,” he said.
His work was to help bring Afghan Army engineers up to a professional level as a military road building and earth moving organization.
Godsell said that recent news of Afghan soldiers ambushing the American soldiers sent to train them was a concern, but teaching engineers was a different kind of mission.
“When we were training them,” he said, “It was skill based.”
“Also, we took real serious the guardian angel concept where they knew we had people watching them,” Godsell said.
“We were really working hard with our interpreters,” Godsell said. “You take care of them as absolutely well as you can, and they took care of us.”
That, Godsell said, is invaluable experience for Dschaak even though that kind of duty could be exhausting. It also proved Dschaak had the cultural sensitivity to work well with people who come from an entirely foreign culture in their own environment.
Jake had been doing regular engineer work with heavy equipment.
He said he plans to head to the University of Minnesota.
The third Dschaak serving overseas is Brent and Diana’s oldest son Casey.
The couple said they don’t know what the regular Army 1st lieutenant plans for his own career.
The three Dschaaks serving in Afghanistan this past year carried on a military tradition in their mother’s family.
Steel-covered Bibles from the World War II era, one from her late father and two she found on eBay, went with each of the three into harm’s way.
Citation: original article posted here: Home from Afghanistan doesn’t mean back to Belle Fourche