Veterans Day marks end of Army career for Hudson manVeterans Day is the first in decades Lyle J. Fridlund will be celebrating as a civilian. The Hudson man officially retired from the U.S. Army on Halloween, his 60th birthday, as a Chief Warrant Officer-5 with a collective 34 years of service.
By: Jon Echternacht, Hudson Star-Observer
Veterans Day is the first in decades Lyle J. Fridlund will be celebrating as a civilian.
The Hudson man officially retired from the U.S. Army on Halloween, his 60th birthday, as a Chief Warrant Officer-5 with a collective 34 years of service.
“I think it is one of the best things I did, joining the Army,” Fridlund said during a conversation in his home recently. “It was an honor to serve my country.”
However, he didn’t plan on making the Army his career in the beginning.
Fridlund grew up in Edina, Minn., where he graduated from high school in 1967. He earned a two-year degree from Metro State Junior College in the Twin Cities in 1968 and a B.A. in business administration from Bemidji, Minn., State University in 1971.
During college he joined the Army Reserves. In December 1976 he completed his six year obligation and left the military.
From 1976 to 1981 he ran his own business selling lawn and garden machinery in Crystal, Minn. Fridlund rejoined the reserves in 1981, “due to economic conditions,” he said, and worked his way up to the ranks of staff sergeant.
In 1985 he entered the Active Guard Reserve program. “It was active duty with the reserves,” Fridlund said, “and I was assigned to Regional Training Site Maintenance in Ft. Devens, Mass., as a supply sergeant.”
In 1989 he attended Warrant Officer School in Ft. Rucker, Ala., and achieved the rank of CWO-1 on Dec. 7, 1989, in the quartermaster branch.
He served in different commands including Ft. Snelling, Minn., Arden Hills, Minn., Tucson, Ariz., and Salt Lake City, Utah, most recently.
“When I returned to the reserves, I liked it more and more,” Fridlund said. “I liked the structure and the camaraderie.“ Fridlund said he also enjoyed his job and because of a business background it became easy for him.
“A lot of people don’t realize that a warrant officer is a commissioned officer. We maintain one job specialty throughout a career. Mine is in quartermaster. You become an expert because your whole career has been dealing with supply,” he said.
“You earn the respect of both officers and enlisted men,” Fridlund said.
In 2003 as a CWO-5, he was deployed to Iraq for 13 months. “We were the first bunch over there in March 2003,” he said.
“The experience of being deployed really paid off. In a pressure situation, you learn to get things done in a hurry,” Fridlund said.
He saw some vast changes in his line of work while serving in the Army, particularly in technology. “We went from doing the accounting by hand to IBM punch cards to laptop computers and barcoding.” Fridlund said there were even homing devices on big equipment so he could tell where items were at all times, such as on a ship in the Atlantic, or a flatbed truck in Alabama.
Over the years he kept track of moving millions of tons and millions of dollars worth of equipment around the globe for the Army.
He laments the fact that some really smart, young officers are leaving the service these days. “I worked with a couple of West Pointers, young captains, who were going to get out as soon as their six year obligation was up,” Fridlund said.
“A lot of people don’t like the military, but really, like the Army slogan says, ‘be all you can be’ is true,” he said.
Fridlund and his wife Chris, a native of Appleton, moved to Hudson in 2004. “Wisconsin has a pro military attitude. They are one of a few states that don’t tax military pensions,” he said. The couple has two grown sons, Brock, who lives in Rochester, Minn., and Chet in Eau Claire.
Fridlund has been awarded the Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal. On Nov. 14, he is scheduled to be awarded the Legion of Merit for his 34 years of military service at a ceremony at Ft. McCoy.