'Our longest year'
John Plante never wanted his sons to enlist. When they were younger, he went so far as to make them read "Johnny Got His Gun," an antiwar novel about a soldier who lost all his limbs. "I always tried to dissuade them because I was in the service,...
John Plante never wanted his sons to enlist.
When they were younger, he went so far as to make them read "Johnny Got His Gun," an antiwar novel about a soldier who lost all his limbs.
"I always tried to dissuade them because I was in the service, and I'd went overseas. Lo and behold, they end up joining," said Plante, a Navy veteran who served in the Middle East in the '80s. "I had no influence. None."
Plante's son, Chris, 23, enlisted in the Army in 2008 and is part of a unit of engineers at Fort McCoy, Wis. "I kind of just joined one day, I guess," Chris Plante said. "It seemed like a logical decision at the time."
Plante's other son, Josh, 22, signed up in 2009 and is an infantryman stationed at Fort Riley, Kan. "When we told him we were going into the Army, he kind of had a heart attack about it," Josh Plante said.
As it turns out, these brothers who grew up in Buxton, N.D., and graduated from Hillsboro High School are both preparing this month to leave for yearlong deployments to Afghanistan. It will be the first time either one has left the country.
"It's hard because I still see them as little, you know. I see, you know, the youngest one as a little goofball, and he's going to be hunting al-Qaida. And the other one I had hoped he'd be in medical school, but now he's going to be clearing roads," said their dad, a community service officer with the Grand Forks Police Department. "It's going to be our longest year."
Chris and Josh Plante don't know much about their missions. Josh Plante has been informed that he'll be posted somewhere near the eastern border of Afghanistan. He was also told to anticipate combat. "All they really told us was expect to gain contact at least once a month, probably more," he said.
Their mom, Karen, has conflicting feelings about her boys going to war.
"I'm very proud of them. My father was in Korea, had a brother in the service," she said. "But, you know, it's just too many emotions wrapped into one. You're scared, you're proud, you're sad."
Chris Plante will leave behind a wife, a 6-month-old daughter and a 9-year-old stepdaughter. "I get worried ... with Chris missing everything with his first child, missing her first steps, her first birthday," his wife, Randi, said.
She said they have lots of family in the area, but it won't be a replacement. "It's not the same as your husband being home every night with you," she said.
Josh Plante doesn't have kids, but he's been married for about a year. His wife, Mary, said she's been trying to prepare herself for his deployment and everything that comes with it.
"I don't think you really can, though," she said.
Reach Ingersoll at (701) 780-1269; (800) 477-6572, ext. 269; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .