Family, farming and the National Guard: Former, current soldiers build a life together in Regent
REGENT - It was just another day at the farm in June 2005 when Jarin Schaible stopped loading up wheat to answer his cellphone.
"It was a full-timer from the unit who had called to say that there was a good chance that our unit would be deploying," Jarin said. "My dad, who I farm with, was there and I told him what the phone call was about, and like any parent, dad hated to hear that and expected the worst."
Jarin, 31, of Regent, an only child and a 2000 graduate of Mott High School, grew up 9 miles east of Regent on the family farm where he and his parents now work together and grow wheat and canola.
Farming had always been in Jarin's blood, making agriculture a natural subject to study when he enrolled at Dickinson State University during the fall of 2001.
That was a few months before he enlisted in the North Dakota National Guard for eight years -- six years of active duty and two years non-active duty.
"I was 20 years old and wanted a different experience, and was always intrigued by the military," said Jarin, who was placed with a unit based out of Bismarck. "With the different places you get to travel and the new things you learn, I decided to join the military."
After almost a year of drill weekends following his enlistment, Jarin departed for eight weeks of basic training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C., and another 14 weeks in Georgia, where he participated in Advanced Individual Training.
In July 2005, as expected, Jarin received his warning order and in October he began pre-deployment training "to get the right mindset" at Camp Grafton in Devils Lake. There, he met his eventual bride, Patti.
On Dec. 5, 2005, the couple and their units left for Fort Lewis, Wash., to do mobilization training before arriving in Afghanistan in late March to begin a nearly year-long deployment.
In Washington, Jarin and Patti, who volunteered to deploy when Jarin's unit out of Bismarck was short of people, trained as military police and assisted in the training of the Afghan National Army and border police.
When they weren't training the Afghans, Jarin said they were performing road security in Afghanistan, mostly looking for improvised explosive devices.
"I didn't know what to expect when I got over there since I'd only gone as far as Texas, but it's definitely a different place the U.S.," Jarin said. "It was a good experience a majority of the time, but we all have our bad experiences over there."
Luckily, Jarin -- a farm boy -- and Patti -- a resident of Wahpeton who'd never lived on a farm -- were in the same platoon and saw each other almost every day.
They quickly hit it off and their relationship continued when they came back to North Dakota.
"When we returned, we would talk on the phone, which was good because we both knew what the other had gone through over there," Patti said. "I had already planned to move with my daughter to Dickinson before my unit called and asked me to go to Afghanistan, so after getting back in June 2007, I moved to Dickinson and we had our first daughter, Alexia, in December."
They got married more than a year after Jarin proposed -- July 4, 2009 to be exact -- though they did not choose the wedding date for patriotic purposes, Patti explained, adding that she would have preferred an October wedding.
"But not if she wanted me there," Jarin said with a laugh.
It came with the territory when the nuptials involved a farmer and she understood, Patti said.
"I married a farmer and farmers have schedules that you have to work around times like harvest and seeding, so I asked Jarin when worked best and he said early July," Patti said. "The first weekend just so happened to be July 4.
"That's right. We got married around farming."
Farming full time became easier when Jarin officially received his honorable discharge papers. Patti, meanwhile, remained in the service and will begin her 14th year in the National Guard this summer.
"Six more years and I'll have 20 years in, and I can retire. It's a goal I set for myself in 1998 and I want to see it through, but I go back and forth sometimes," Patti said.
Especially now that the Schaibles have four daughters -- 11-year-old Haley, Patti's daughter from a previous relationship; 5-year-old Alexia, who loves the tractor and is the family's possible future farmer; 2-year-old Jocelyn, who is a gardener in the making, and 7-month-old Somer.
Their daughters were all signed up for the American Legion Auxiliary when Jarin joined American Legion Post 273 in Regent this year.
"It's harder and harder to leave the family, like when I have to do flood duty, and we only had two kids then," Patti said about her duties with the National Guard. "I miss weddings and other events, but then when I put the uniform on, I know I'm meant to be in it."
Regardless of Patti's military service, the couple said they won't stop farming.
"Balancing farming and the military is not easy, and Jarin gave the military up so he could farm," Patti said.
With Patti still in the National Guard, there is always a chance she will be deployed again, this time without Jarin.
"We had a scare this fall when my unit went under notification for four months, meaning there was a chance we could deploy to Afghanistan," Patti said. "When the notification was canceled, it was a huge sigh of relief for all of us."
And it gave a chance for Jarin's blood pressure to regulate.
"I was a wreck for a while when I realized that she could be deployed again," he said. "I was definitely not looking forward to it."
With the chance of deployment escaped this time, the Schaibles are back to the worries of daily life on the farm, like which daughter gets to ride shotgun in the tractor.
"Sometimes getting to see daddy during busy times of year for farming means bringing the kids out to the tractor," Patti said. "The girls fight about who gets to sit on his lap, but since the tractor is not made for a family of six, it's only two at a time allowed up there. (Jarin) does what he has to and balances farming and family life well."