MOHALL, N.D. (KXNET) — He grew up in a small town on the farm, and James Strandberg, like many people, felt compelled to sign up and serve his country.
Born and raised in Mohall, James Strandberg has been all across the country, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, whether it was for training or for serving.
Whether he was on active duty or with the Army National Guard, he’s been all over, including overseas to Iraq, Thailand, and Korea.
After graduating high school in 1971, that fall he went into the service and served for a little more than six years.
He says it all happened during an incident with his brothers at Christmas.
“I was out bringing a pitchfork of hay to feed the cows with my two younger brothers. I was coming in and they went out to get hay too. Well, there was a piece of cow chip and one threw it at the other one. I walked along and my little brother ran in front of me. He said look up, my other brother hit me here with it, knocked me out. So I lost a lot of teeth. So when I got into high school I knew my folks couldn’t fix my teeth. So I was thinking about getting into the Navy and the Seabees. But when I skipped a day of school and went down and signed up for the Navy I did not do good enough for the test so they took me to the Army,” said James Strandberg, a U.S. Army and Army National Guard veteran.
One of his challenges, and most difficult time serving, came in Iraq.
“The biggest challenge was when we were going on a mission, did not know when were going to get hit. Did not know if were going to come back on that mission. So I drove about 30,000 miles in Iraq. Drove 30 missions each one roughly 1,000 miles we had to deal with IEDS of many sort,” said Strandberg.
While he was in Thailand he and his crew were relief support behind the scenes but were a valuable asset to the team during the Vietnam war.
He says it could have been worse for those in Vietnam if the relief team wouldn’t have been there.
“I was stationed down in Camp Casey in Thailand with the Army, but we supported the Air Force. Ships brought supplies in and equipment for the Air Force. We delivered. I was in a transportation unit. So we hauled from the port to different bases throughout Thailand. When I was there from 72 to 73,” Strandberg recalled.
After getting out of the Army he was farming.
He says he had a 12-year span where he was not serving, but working in the community.
Then in 1990, he joined the Army National Guard, where they eventually shipped him out to Thailand for Vietnam.
While in Thailand, they did come up against something they did not expect.
“And all of a sudden we probably didn’t even go two blocks. And all of sudden we went over like a big ol’ log, went over a bump like a big log. Here it was a big o’l python snake we drove over. It made the snake mad and he started chasing us down the road. And when he stepped on it, I about fell out because I was at the end and they grabbed me to keep me in. But probably a big ol’ snake about that big around that went across the road,” said Strandberg.
Furthermore while in the Guard, he also got to go overseas to Japan and train with different branches of the military.
“They had a program in the Guard, here in Minot they call it keep up. Guard troops could go to active duty post and train with the active duty for a while, so I had an opportunity to go to Okinawa. So I jumped on it and I met another guy and I think was out of Fargo. They flew us there and we trained with the Special Forces there,” said Strandberg.
Starting in Mohall, Strandberg has been all over the world and back again. Now he’s back working on the family homestead.
Strandberg retired from the Army National Guard in 2007.