NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Honoring those who served to make our day-to-day lives possible.
KX News spoke with one heroic local, who says with a family of military servers, it was just the right thing to do.
“I graduated from ROTC Youngstown State University as a second lieutenant when I was commissioned in 1979. I retired on April Fool’s Day, 2006. Then I worked in public affairs for the North Dakota National Guard, where I worked for 17 years, culminating as the director for the last two years. I retired in June 2023,” said Bill Prokopyk.
And the list goes on.
Serving our nation for more than 40 years, meet Bill Prokopyk, or should we say “Pro”.
“It started when I was a kid and it followed me in the Army, Lieutenant Pro, Captain Pro, now as I’m, you know, Colonel Pro, and now that I’m retired and coaching football, it’s Coach Pro. In fact, some of my friends call Laura L. Pro. There’s a guard license plate over there that the nickname says Pro, and I also had the first personalized plate in North Dakota, the guard, excuse me, the veteran’s plate, PRO, so I had two different Pro plates,” said Pro.
What sounds heroic, outstanding, and without a doubt applaudable to the average person, Pro says is just his duty.
“I believe every citizen has a debt to do something to protect their country which in return protects their family and society,” said Pro.
As for his righthand woman, or his partner in crime, that is his wife Laura Pro AKA L.Pro. Not only did Pro serve, in a big way L.Pro did too, as an army wife and navy mom.
“I think it’s the right way to live. I’m eligible to be in the DAR, so my family has a history. I have two uncles who served. One was a Thunderbird. Another one was in Paris, during World War II. So each generation has had people serving,” said L.Pro.
During the visit, Pro began to reminisce on the times he had been out of the country.
“As a director of engineering and housing, one time in the morning, early, early morning, and I’m not really a morning person, which is kind of strange, because I spent 26-some years in the Army. When I got to the meeting across town, it was this big huff-huff. People were, like, really active and talking, and I was like, what is going on? And they said, there’s an active sniper over in your area shooting at people. And I found out later he was shooting at me in the morning because there were bullet holes in the brick wall where I parked my vehicle. I had no idea, probably because it was morning. I don’t know if that was a scared moment,” said Pro.
As Pro has many proud moments, one of his favorites.
“One of the proudest moments that I also just thought of here. My father taught me how to speak Ukrainian, being a Ukrainian immigrant, serving as slave laborer during World War II. In the mid-90s, I was asked to be an interpreter for Ukrainian general officers coming to Fort Bragg. And it was for the 18th Airborne Corps commander, at the time, Lieutenant General Hugh Sheldon, who eventually became the chairman of the Joint Chief. And, it was very proud that General Sheldon trusted me to provide a good translation of those general officers, those Ukrainian general officers who were good translation of those general officers, those Ukrainian general officers who were formerly Soviet Union type division commanders,” said Pro.
We don’t know them all, but we owe them all.
Pro says it was his honor & privilege to serve with the North Dakota National Guard in the later half of his military career, which spanned more than four decades.
Now off duty, he is known as Coach Pro for local youth football games and has begun cooking for fun.