Stories from John Henry Foster Military Veterans

John Henry Foster (Eagan, Minnesota) employs 12 military veterans and would like to take a moment to THANK our very own who have served in the armed forces, as well as thank ALL who have served. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made and for believing in our nation’s freedom.

U.S. military officials point out that many people confuse Memorial Day with Veterans Day.  Memorial Day honors military personnel who died in battle or as a result of their wounds.  Veterans Day is set aside to thank and honor all those who served in the military, in wartime and in peacetime.  It is intended to thank living veterans for their services, to acknowledge their contributions to national security, and to underscore their sacrifice and duty.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are around 21.8 million living veterans, out of our total population of more than 320 million. Statistically, that gives each of us plenty of opportunity to personally say thanks for their service.

We say THANK YOU to individuals you see pictured below (and all veterans) for their selflessness. We are a better nation because of you. Enjoy reading the stories from our very own.

Andrew Baca, a JHFoster employee, served in the military

Andrew Baca

Back in High School Andrew wanted to be a police officer so he thought being a cop in the air force would give him a leg up on future jobs so he signed up for Security Forces.  He was stationed at Minot Air Force Base in Minot, North Dakota where he held a Secret Clearance. His job was to Guard Nuclear Missile Launch Facilities while maintenance crews worked on the missiles in underground silos. 

Thank you, Andrew.

Craig Beeler

“I decided to join the US Army on a whim at the age of 19. My friend and I thought it’d be a cool idea. From 1980 – 1984, I served. I was stationed in Fort Meade for one year and three months and then Aschaffenburg, Germany for two years and 3 months. I was a construction equipment mechanic and worked on diggers, dumpers, dozers and graders.

The hardest part for me was the physical training every single day and those 2 mile runs. The coolest part was skiing in Germany in the Alps – the same place the Olympics were held.” 

Thank you, Craig.

JHFoster Celebrates Craig Beeler's Career in the Military
JHFoster celebrates Leander Aren's career in the military

Leander Arens

Leander’s career in the military started because of his younger brother. His brother gave the Marines Leander’s contact information since Leander was always saying it was something he wanted to do. Leander started bootcamp in California, and then studied radio operations at 29 Palms. Soon he was stationed in Japan for 2 years and 3 months. Coincedently, he and another JHF employee (Zach Beck) were on the USS Essex during the same time.

During this time, Leander was able to see six countries and build a school in the Philippines where they added a water pump with running water. His favorite stop was Australia (even if a Jack and Coke was around $18.00). Leander returned back from Japan and was stationed in California and worked in confined space rescue.

He was also an amateur MMA fighter on base. He fought at House of Pain and got his tooth knocked out. 

Thank you, Leander.

Erik Florentz

As graduation day approached, Erik realized he had little money for college and had no idea what he wanted to do. So he joined the Navy. He did eight weeks of basic training in Illinois, followed by six months of Class A school in Virginia, and then was assigned to the Pre-Commission Unit for the USS George Washington (CVN-73), which makes Erik a first crew plank owner. Once the ship was built, Erik sailed up to Canada and down to Puerto Rico. He spent 4 years, 10 months and 27 days in the Navy and was ready to start college before his 5th year.

He started at Lake Superior College and then transferred and graduated from University of Minnesota Duluth with a History and Philosophy Major with a 95% computer degree. 

Thank you, Erik.

JHFoster celebrates Erik Florentz's career in the military
JHFoster celebrates Isaac Trexel's career in the military

Isaac Trexel

Isaac joined the military his senior year – both his parents were in the military. His military training began in San Antonio and he finished training in Des Moines. He originally wanted to be a pilot and earned his private license and then started working toward instrument training, meaning he could fly without needing to see. Halfway through his first year, he was deployed to Afghanistan for three months where he worked as a crew chief on F16s. While there, he worked midnight to noon for six days and then would have a day off.

Once back in Iowa, he realized he didn’t want to be a pilot and was a full-time crew chief on F-16s. At that time the guard in Iowa was remissioned to Duluth. He then was asked to work at Alert in Fresno and went to California. This is where they did drills to get planes loaded and ready to go in two minutes versus the usual 30 minutes. He moved out there and did that for six months, but in the meantime, his brother enlisted in the military and Isaac asked to be transferred back to Duluth so he could be with his brother. He’s been in the military seven years.

Because Isaac has been surrounded by the military his whole life, there are very few states he has not been to in the USA! 

Thank you, Isaac.

Carl Muonio

After high school, Carl served 4 years on active duty as a Ground Support Equipment Mechanic (MOS 6073) in the United States Marine Corps. He went through bootcamp and technical training for a year and was then stationed at Marine Corp Air Station Tustin, California which was home for 12 Helicopter Squadrons.

He was deployed once in the Pacific and was stationed on board a huge navy ship USS Essex LHD 2 for 6 months. He’s been to Australia, United Arab Emirates, Somalia, Kuwait, Japan, Hawaii and Kenya. 

Thank you, Carl.

JHFoster celebrates Carl Muonio's career in the military
JHFoster celebrates Zach Beck's career in the military

Zach Beck

Zach joined the Navy after high school graduation and was stationed in Sasebo, Japan for four years. He was able to go home twice a year for a week at a time. When his four years were up, he moved to San Diego, but after a year and a half, he moved back to Minnesota to be close to family.

He’s been to almost every state west of Indiana and has been all over the world, places such as Japan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Australia and the Philippians. 

Thank you, Zach.

Shane Bachmann

Shane joined the army reserves in 1987, which was a Light Arctic Infantry Unit in Walker, MN. He went to boot camp between his junior and senior year in high school. That made him grow up extremely fast going to Fort Benning, GA at age 17.

He stayed in that unit for about a year and a half and then he transferred to the National Guard unit in Park Rapids, MN. he was in that unit for about 2 years until he moved to Omaha, NE where he finished out his 6 years active and 2 years inactive as a E-4.

He had a lot of fun training with the Bradley Infantry fighting vehicle because he was a driver. The only bad side was he had to clean it after going through all the mud holes. He never had the chance to go into combat in the first War in the middle East (Desert Storm) because it was over before his unit was called up for Active duty. 

Thank you, Shane.

JHFoster celebrates Shane Bachmann's career in the military
JHFoster celebrates Greg Lundeen's career in the military

Greg Lundeen

“It was 1971 and I had just entered basic training.  I got there on the 9th of September and they took this picture on the 21st. I am the scared looking guy, top row, second from the right.  I eventually was one of the guys with the stripes in the bottom row, earning a squad leader position. This meant that you were responsible for a dozen or so guys and made sure they towed the mark.

There were privileges with the position getting you out of Fire Guard and KP (kitchen patrol). I had an advantage going in as I had already been in the National Guard for about 6 months and was an E2 Private. Everyone else for the most part was an E1.

The Army is all about rank. As little rank that I had, I had more than the others and that helped me going forward.  I did leave my 6 months of training as an E4, advancing to Private First Class and then Specialist 4. This is where I stayed for the rest on my time in the National Guard.” 

Thank you, Greg.

Sam Vargo

“I always wanted to join the armed services ever since I could remember as a kid I thought it was the coolest job you could have.

I served in Hurricane Katrina, Iraq and Afghanistan. I have been 4 years active and 2 years in the reserves. My rank or job rank was SGT. I was an 11C/11B and then reclassed to a 37F. The hardest part for me was the downtime.” 

Thank you, Sam.

JHFoster celebrates Sam Vargo's career in the military
JHFoster celebrates Tony Sluzacek's career in the military

Greg Sluzacek

“You could say that I decided to join the Navy. You could say that. In actuality, I had a choice between the Navy and jail.

Beginning in my teens, I started running with the wrong crowd. I got into a lot of trouble and spent most of my high school years sitting in the county court house. Nothing in the way of felonies but let’s say I skirted the edge a couple of times.

Long story short…. the judge was fed up with me. I was less than a month from turning 18 and he was going to try me as an adult. I was most likely looking at a year and a day. That means Stillwater and not county jail. I was SO scared!!

I begged my father to help me and reluctantly he helped. He and the County Attorney agreed that if I joined the military, the charges would be dropped.

So now I’m a Veteran. And it was the best thing that happened to me. 

Boot Camp is what broke me. I got my butt kicked! It broke me down, but in the end, I graduated tied for 1st in my Division. I then went on to Millington, TN for my “A” School. I was to be an Aviation Electrician. My rank was AEAN (Aviation Electrician E3)

I spent 9 months there learning about the theory of flight, theory of electricity and aviation electrical. After that, I transferred to NAS Coronado Island, San Diego, CA for 4 more months to specialize on SH-60B Helicopters. (Most people know them as Blackhawks except ours were gray.)

Then it was off to Atsugi, Japan. I was assigned to the helicopter squadron HSL-51 The Warlords. I spent the rest of my time “Defending Our Country” during a time of peace! So really, I toured Japan!!! So… I started out pretty rough, but in the end, this made me who I am today.”

Thank you, Greg. 

Matt Mensen

“I joined because it was in my blood. I was raised in a family that supported and served our country from WWII to the current conflict. At one point there was 13 family members all serving at the same time.

I joined the Army National Guard 134 BSB B. Co. in Nov. 11, 2000 after I turned 17. I got out 9.5 years later on July 23, 2010. I served at Camp Ripley before my deployment to Iraq. In Iraq (2005-2007), I was tasked with escorting supplies from my base to the Bagdad area.

On these escorts, I was in the lead truck as a gunner. I was a Specialist E4. The hardest part for me was not knowing when I’d be coming home. The good things I remember was the people I got to meet. My best friends are from my army family and people I would do anything for. Sometimes you truly get to know people when they are all you have. Also, seeing the kid’s faces in Iraq when we’d toss them soccer balls was priceless. They were always happy to see us.” 

Thank you, Matt.

JHFoster celebrates Matt Mensen's career in the military

Thank you, Veterans!