Many people have answered the call to serve. Whether in the military, law enforcement, emergency medical services, or fire department; they have put the well-being of others before their own. For their dedication and sacrifice, they deserve recognition.
Sitting down for a chat with Lee Tschetter is akin to catching up with an old friend. He has a calm and reassuring demeanor, coupled a friendly smile and baritone voice. His service began when he joined the United States Marine Corps.
Why did you choose the Marine Corps?
Thats rather a funny story, my intention was to join the Army. When I was in High School I went to a career day. For the morning session we had to pick one person to talk to, and the afternoon session we picked one person. In the morning I went and I talked to the Army recruiter and in the afternoon I went and talked to the Marine Corps recruiter; the Marine Corps recruiter showed up at the door first.
How did your time in the Marine Corps benefit you as a young man?
I grew up in a small farming community in South Dakota and I wasnt a farmer. Basically, I wanted to see the world and that was my chance. The biggest thing was I grew up, I had responsibility and, not that I didnt have work ethic, but the Marine Corps kind of instills work ethic and respect into you.
When did you serve, where did you serve?
I served in the Marine Corps from 83 to 88. My first duty station was infantry training school, Camp Pendleton in California; I was there for three years. Then I did a two year deployment to Okinawa Japan. I was with the 9th engineer battalion there.
What did you do?
My MOS, or military occupational specialty, was a heavy motor vehicle operator or truck driver. Even though I drove truck, I did a lot of other things. Working with the engineers; playing with explosives. My favorite part was when I was with the special weapons and tactics unit at Camp Pendleton. I was in when the Olympics was in Los Angles and we got to work with SWAT around California. When I was in Okinawa we helped with the security for the Seoul Olympics.
What are some of your fondest memories from your time in the Marine Corps?
Oh wow, I think probably some of the fondest memories I have is when I went overseas; I was in Japan, Okinawa, Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand. I was able to see things that I never would have seen being a small town boy from South Dakota.
One of the things that was interesting, when I first got stationed at Camp Pendleton right after school and boot camp, was Clint Eastwood filmed Heartbreak Ridge. If you watch the movie theyre supposedly at Camp Lejeune, but it was all filmed at Camp Pendleton in California. I got to be in the movie, they attached us to the film crew for a week and besides our military wages we got $90 a day to be in the movie. I got to drive a Jeep and meet all of them, then we got to go to one of the first screenings of the movie when it came out.
What did you do after you finished serving in the Marine Corps?
Well the Marine Corps in its infinite wisdom made me a truck driver, when I got out first thing I did was take a job driving truck. And my intention was to drive truck until the next college semester started and then I was going to go to college. 22 years later I got off the truck
You eventually did go to college, to get your teaching degree?
Yes but I didnt go to college until I was 40. I drove truck for 3 or 4 different companies over 22 years and then blew my back out. After that happened I started working for the Tribal Police in South Dakota and worked as a security officer at a casino. I knew that was something I didnt want to do for the rest of my life, so while I was working at the casino I went back to college and I got a bachelors degree in elementary education. Im a certified teacher, K through 8 with a criminal justice minor. A rather unusual minor for an ed degree.
Now youre a librarian for Natrona County and in charge of the Book Mobile, what does that entail?
The book mobile is basically a mobile library, a branch of the main Natrona County library. I have about 5,000 items on the bus between books, movies, and CDs, things like that, with access to everything that the main library has. I go to schools, daycares, and neighborhoods for regular stops. I do all the check outs and requests; everything that the main library does. The looks I get when I tell people that I was in the Marine Corps for 6 years, and here theyre looking at a guy thats driving a book mobile and reading stories to little kids. Or that I have an elementary ed degree, you get some strange looks, most people dont associate a Marine with working with elementary age children. If you see me out camping or hunting it all seems to fall into place, but when you see me reading a book called The Wolfs Chicken Stew to twelve 3 and 4 year olds, people dont associate that with the Marines much.
Has your time in the service influenced your children?
My son Jacob is in the Navy Reserve and goes to Cheyenne once a month and sometimes Bremerton, Washington. My daughter Melissa wanted to join the Air Force, and I dont know what ever really happened with that, but she ended up marrying an Airman. Theyre in England now, and going to be in England for 3 years; so Im hoping to take a trip over there and fish in England. Their mom was in the Army, my dad was in the Army, and my Grandfather was in the Army. So it runs in the family.
What hobbies do you have?
I love the outdoors; camping, hunting, and fishing. I grew up doing those things. When I moved to Wyoming I really got into fly fishing, something that I had never done before. Even though Ive fished all my life, we didnt do fly fishing where I was from in South Dakota. When I came down here it was something that interested me and I really enjoy it.
You are now the president of the Wyoming Flycasters fly fishing club, how long have you been a member of the organization?
Ive been a member of the Flycasters going on 6 years, Im the President of the club now. Ive been an officer and on the board for 5 of those years. Its a great group of guys, I really enjoy it. They helped me get started in fly fishing and learning places to go.
As a member of the Wyoming Flycasters, you have close ties to Project Healing Waters, what can you tell us about that?
When the chapter of Project Healing Waters started up here in Casper, the man that organized the chapter was a member of the Flycasters. He came to us and asked if we would be interested in working with Project Healing Waters. A lot of our club members are veterans and not only that, its a good way to support our veterans. We help the members of Project Healing Waters learn how to fly fish, and where to go. They go on a lot of fishing outings, tie flies, and build rods; our club has been a pretty active part in the Healing Waters. Especially when it just got started; and we continue to be now.