BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — When we’re young, we can have grand ideas about what we want to be when we grow up; perhaps a rocket scientist, astrophysicist, or president.
Those are high-profile jobs, but only a few of us will have them. And though becoming a member of the U.S. Armed Forces is a more common occupation, Alan Dohrmann never thought he’d be referred to as Major General Alan Dohrmann.
“What’s the saying? Time flies when you’re having fun.” It’s one way Major General Alan Dohrmann describes a career dedicated to serving the United States.
Growing up in Minnesota, Dohrmann explained that the idea of a military career may have come from having fun.
“When I was in preschool, in first and second grade, there was only one other boy in the neighborhood and his dad was a World War II vet and we spent all day playing army,” Gen. Dohrmann said. “I don’t know if that planted the seed for later in life, but I know growing up, every time there was a military movie on TV, I begged my parents to watch it. I won’t date myself with all the military TV shows of the day but I watched every one of them,” Dohrmann said.
Dohrmann would go through ROTC training at Mankato State, learning to, like them or not, carry out orders.
“They decided I’d be a good infantryman. At the time, I didn’t think that was a good idea; but then I got into the infantry and it reminded me of growing up in a small town where if you were six foot four, you were going to be on the basketball team if you had any skills or not,” Dohrmann said.
In his first years, Dohrmann was stationed in Germany and Japan. After that, Dohrmann thought his military time was over.
“I was going to law school and a classmate of mine was in the National Guard. He said: ‘Hey. Why don’t you come join us? You’ll get some money on weekends,’ and when you’re in law school, it’s hard to make money,” Dohrmann said.
He joined with the thought of his second round of service not lasting long. It’s now been almost 40 years, with seven, this December, as Major General of the North Dakota National Guard, for which the general said he’s grateful.
“Just the opportunities I’ve had to go places to deploy, overseas, some educational opportunities, that would have never been available to a “C” student if I hadn’t been in the National Guard,” Dohrmann said.
Military generals are in their positions because they have certain skills and qualifications. With that in mind, General Dohrmann pointed out that positions of authority haven’t gone to his head.
“In the military, as you gain rank, it’s like: ‘Right now I gotta act like a major.’ Well, no. You gotta be the best version of yourself,” Dohrmann said.
As mentioned earlier, time continues to fly and Dohrmann says retirement is coming. As to what he’ll do then, he’s still in basic training.
“I know I can’t go from doing this to puttering in my garage all day. So, it’s gotta be something more than that. Everybody tells me: ‘When you retire, just do nothing for a while.’ I’ll give that a try. I haven’t done nothing [sic] in awhile, but we can see how that goes,” Dohrmann said.
Until North Dakota renders him a salute for his leadership and service, the general offered one of his own salutes.
“The name of it is Someone You Should Know. I would submit to your audience there is [sic] 4,100 Guardsmen that you should know. If you know somebody in the military, ask them what their story is,” Dohrmann said.