Longtime friends tackle Army experience together
Chris Seaver and Kyle Volk have been close friends since they were barely able to walk.
Growing up in Rugby, the two played hockey, hung out and did homework together.
Now, the pair of 2012 graduates at Rugby High School recently returned home for the first time since entering the Army National Guard early last summer.
Although they went to basic training in different locations, Seaver and Volk were back to their inseparable selves, going through Advanced Individual Training (AIT) together.
Both had similar reasons for entering the service – family tradition and the ability to secure their futures.
Seaver’s grandpa, uncle, cousin and father spent time in the Marines.
“I come from a military family,” he said. “I didn’t know what branch I wanted to go into. My dreams and aspirations are to go into medicine so I decided to go into the Army National Guard.”
Going into the guard would allow Seaver to serve and still be going to college with the help of national tuition assistance and the GI Bill.
“You can make anywhere from $700-$800 a month for going to college on top of tuition assistance. It’s definitely a nice deal.”
He plans on starting his undergrad degree at UND beginning next month but has also applied at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.
Volk’s father spent more than a decade as a combat engineer, and like Seaver, he plans on taking full benefit of the Army’s assistance, allowing him to receive “good college benefits and start out with no debt.”
“I’m going to Dakota College at Bottineau to get ag degree and play hockey,” Volk said. “Then I plan to go to (Northland Community and Technical College in) Thief River Falls to study. wind tower energy. I’m pretty mechanically inclined, and (wind energy) is going to be around for awhile.
It’s not going to be a dead end for me.”
Seaver, who is also in the Army National Guard, will also start his college education next month.
After graduation last May, both mulled over options, with Seaver deciding first to join the Armed Services.
“I was thinking about going into the Army, Chris up and did it,” Volk said. “It helped my decision.”
By mid-June, the two were on their way to basic training, with Volk going to Fort Jackson in South Carolina and Seaver completing his basic at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
“While you’re doing it, it’s definitely tough but when you look back, you’re glad you did it,” Seaver said. “It definitely builds character.”
Volk said reports from returning soldiers about the difficulty of basic training are true.
“They’re right,” he said. “There’s a lot of yelling. They say things to mess with your mind, but they don’t mean it. You just have to put that in the back of your head. They do it to make you mentally stronger.”
After basic, both were shipped to Fort Lee in Virgina where they spent more than three months in AIT studying to become water treatment specialists.
Like the many weekends they spent growing up in Rugby, the two were back together again.
“Platoon sargeant said you can pick your roommate,” Volk said. “He was my best friend there.”
“It was nice having him out at AIT,” Seaver said. “We’ve been friends since we were 2 1/2. If you need someone to talk to or have your back, I could always count on him.”
After about 6 months of training, both soldiers missed friends and family back in Rugby.
“Probably the hardest was leaving my family,” Seaver said. “I had a grandma diagnosed with cancer three weeks before graduation.”
Volk said he missed the people too, but also got used to some more balmy conditions.
“It was 75 days the day we flew out of Virginia,” he said. “We got home it was -7.”
Both said they will be part of Rugby’s 132nd Quartermaster detachment despite possibly being gone in school in Grand Forks or Thief River Falls.
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