Brothers Devote 50 Years to Iowa Guard
(July 7, 2011)
|LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan, July 5, 2011 – Army Sgt. 1st
Class Tim Fiedler Jr., and his younger brother, Army Staff
Sgt. Rich Fiedler, have put in more than 50 years of
combined service in the Iowa National Guard's Company A, 1st
Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment.
Army Staff Sgt. Rich Fiedler, left, and his brother, Army Sgt. 1st
Class Tim Fiedler, right, sit together June 14, 2011, on Combat
Outpost Najil in Afghanistan's Laghman province. The Fiedler
brothers have more than 50 years of combined service in the Iowa
National Guard's Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment.
U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jason Beck
Tim said he joined the Guard 29 years ago for the college money. But
regardless of their initial motivation, the brothers said, a sense
of family has kept them in Company A.
“A Company is a pretty
tight-knit group,” Tim explained. “Some of the people have been here
a long time. Working with the younger guys, for me, has been
enjoyable. I could have retired before I came [to Afghanistan]. I
didn't have to come, but this is something I wanted to do. I enjoy
Like Rich Fiedler, Army Sgt. David Tielbar, the
company's senior radio telephone operator, has served in Company A
for 22 years. “I met the Fiedlers through the Guard,” he said. “I've
had them both as team and squad leaders, but we're family – this
company is a family. We've watched the company grow and shrink, but
we always stuck together. They'll tell me like it is, and I respect
their honesty. But above it all, they care about the company's
Tim said he sold cars briefly after college. Rich
said that aside from a few part-time jobs, he never
has worked outside Company A and the Iowa National Guard.
The brothers said they never expected to serve for decades
when they joined the Guard.
“I hated Camp Ripley,”
Tim said, referring to a military training center in
Minnesota. “We went to our annual training there every year,
and it rains, and it's horrible. In fact, when I
re-enlisted, they offered a nice little bonus of $5,000 for
“I wasn't going to re-enlist, and the
recruiter asked why,” he continued. “I told him, ‘I don't
want to go to Camp Ripley.' So they made me a deal – for two
years I didn't have to go to Camp Ripley. One year I went to
the primary leadership course, and one year I did recruiting
Now Company A's acting first sergeant,
Tim said he still wound up going back to Camp Ripley about
25 more times anyway.
A third Fiedler brother, Kenny,
also served in Company A, but he left the National Guard
after nine years of service.
Younger brother Rich
said he has followed Tim's lead in the Iowa National Guard
in many ways.
“I joined because Tim and Kenny joined,
and they went to college, and I wanted to do the same
things,” he said. Both brothers enlisted as infantrymen and
held some of the same positions within the unit.
Fiedler brothers have been the company's supply sergeants
for the past 16 years,” Rich noted.
Since 1988, Tim
has served as a full-time active Guard/Reserve-component
soldier, and Rich has served full-time since 2002. Tim
served six years as the administrative clerk, then as the
company's supply sergeant for the following 12 years. After
Tim went on to become the readiness noncommissioned officer
platoon sergeant, Rich stepped in to fill his brother's
vacated position as supply sergeant, a role he has filled
Before then, Rich served as an
intelligence analyst for the state's counterdrug task force,
an assignment he said he looks upon as the highlight of his
military career thus far.
“It's a federally funded
project; every state has one,” Rich explained. “That was
probably the most fun I've had in the Guard. I didn't have
to wear a uniform or shave, and got to do a lot of neat
operations,” working with different agencies like the Drug
Enforcement Agency and FBI.
Tim said he is living the
highlight of his career now, serving as the company's first
sergeant while on a combat deployment to Afghanistan. It is
also the first time he has deployed with his brother.
“It's always been a dream to be the first sergeant, but
my full-time AGR job prevented me from doing that,” Tim
said. “But being the acting first sergeant of an infantry
company at Combat Outpost Najil is a pretty big
accomplishment for me. With all the things we accomplished
here, it was really rewarding.
“The guys all kid me a
lot, and call me ‘Dad,'” he added, “but in the two and a
half years we spent training up to being here, I've seen a
lot of them change and become more mature. It's been
challenging, and also rewarding.”
A big consideration
in spending their service in the same company is the
brother's love of their hometown, Dubuque, Iowa, Tim said.
“We were born and raised there, [and] went to high
school there,” he said. “In fact my oldest son, Tim Fielder
III, goes there now, and my youngest son, Tyler, will be a
Tim still lives in Dubuque, and Rich lives
in nearby Epworth, Iowa.
“You're limited in the jobs
you can do once you get in the full-time system,” Rich
explained. “I could have gotten promoted and moved, but I
don't want to move, I don't want to live anywhere else.”
Tim said that although he could have also been promoted
15 years ago and would be at least a master sergeant by now,
you can't put a price on living where you want to live and
working with the people you want to work with.
“Staying and living in Dubuque is the tradeoff,” he said.
“But it's where I've always wanted to live and raise my
family. That's where our family lives – my two brothers and
sisters and in-laws.”
Through more than 50 years and
five combined deployments, the Fielders have been a staple
of Company A, and they're still going strong.
got a little over three more years I can still do to get 26
years full-time,” Tim said.
With Rich still having
some full-time service left, the Fiedlers are approaching
six decades of combined service before both have finished
By Army SSgt. Ryan Matson
Task Force Red
American Forces Press Service
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