For our final Veterans Voices segment of 2020, we leave you with the story of Josh Entzel who enlisted in the North Dakota Army National Guard in 1994 when he was still a senior at Mandan High School. His journey took him from Afghanistan to Kosovo to defending the air space over Washington D.C., and all the way back home to Mandan where he now works at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery.
Josh Entzel’s first deployment to Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007 to fight in the Global War on Terror. He trained Afghan police and border patrol and says it was one of the most demanding yet fulfilling experiences in his life.
“The terrain, the weather. Being away from home for that long. Being in war and combat situations. It makes you really appreciate what you have at home a lot more when you’re in countries and places like that,” said Entzel.
One of the aspects that truly showed Entzel he was in truly foreign territory was seeing essentially black market trade being carried out in broad daylight.
“One of the wildest things I saw is they would steal cars and dismantle them and load them on the back of camels and donkeys and haul them over the mountains and reasemble them and sell them in Pakistan.”
In Afghanistan, his twelve-man squad was attacked by terrorist-fighters several times, and as the Squad Leader, it was Entzel’s job to keep the team calm during intense fire-fights.
“Everybody kinda goes into a little bit of a panic mode, and if the leadership, you panic, everybody knows it’s all lost. You know, I focused and said a few things over the radio and it kinda calmed everybody down and everybody did their job and pulled through.”
Entzel would go on to be deployed in Kosovo for a much more tame experience.
Then Entzel was deployed to Washington D.C. twice.
“There we had an overwatch of the D.C. and the national capital area watching aircraft and stuff so we wouldn’t have another 9/11 situation. It would get interesting at times. Aircraft and if things weren’t going the way they were supposed to, stuff would ramp up, and luckily we never had to what we were there to do.”
Now Entzel is back home in North Dakota, and working at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetary.
He calls it a place of peace.
“I plan to be laid to rest here someday, so that’s maybe why I take so much pride in everything we do.”
You can view the rest of our profiles in courage on the Veterans Voices page on KXnet.com.