BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — Veterans day is Friday and ahead of it, we continue to shine a light on our local veterans.

Dan Ell a Senior Emergency Medical Services and  EMT educator served more than 20 years in the Noth Dakota Army and North Dakota Army National Guard. He was so eager to serve his country that he spent two years in a guard program prior to graduating high school.

As he describes it, he walked off the graduation stage and straight onto a plane taking him to basic training.

“Back in high school, one of my friends was in the North Dakota National Guard and he recruited me into the guard, and then I went to basic training at the same time. Actually, there were a bunch of us in North Dakota that went to basic training,” said Ell.

Then in January 1986, he decided to take his journey into active duty.

His time in the active military took him overseas to Germany as a military policeman, and after a short break, he rejoined the North Dakota National Guard as an army medic. 

His years as a medic took him overseas to Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo where he taught EMT classes to local ambulance departments.

“Having the opportunity to spend time in Germany, and see places that I would have probably never had the opportunity to see that was on the active duty side, as far as the National Guard my service after I left active duty, I think the times I got to go to Africa was pretty memorable. I had a lot of good experiences over there. I met some really nice people and made some friends while I was over there so it was really fun,” shared Ell.

Ell says in North Dakota, the community treats veterans with respect and support.

He shares that it means a lot to be a veteran, but it truly means the most to serve.

“It’s always a good feeling when you were able to help somebody and more so when you see them in the worst moments of their lives and being able to maybe connect again after the incident and see how they’ve recovered, and to know that you were a part of that,” Ell added.

KX asked Dan, what life lessons he learned along the way.

“I gained a lot of knowledge and I have gotten more aggressive, I guess, when I was growing up and I was in high school, I was very shy and timid as a person,  once I joined the military, especially going on active duty, that all changed for me and I became more outgoing, more of a leader I believe,” said Ell. 

So what is Dan up to now? 

He has since retired from the military and now teaches EMT courses to local healthcare workers.

And outside of work, he’s been spending time with his dog Bob, riding bikes, and reading books.