Military veterans are a part of RDO teams across our regions and work in roles of all varieties. Every veteran has a unique story, and in recognition of Veterans Day, we asked a few team members to share their stories.
Read on to learn more about these team members’ military service and how it shapes their contributions at RDO today.
Adam Gilbertson’s interest in the military was sparked by a longstanding passion for service to the country and aspirations for a career in politics. While attending Concordia College, he joined the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). He spent three years in the program before graduating and being commissioned as an infantry officer in 1999.
Gilbertson completed his Officer Basic Course and Army Airborne School in Georgia, before his first tour of duty in Germany assigned to the 1st Infantry Division. He served as a battalion assistant operations officer, platoon leader and company executive officer, all prior to the events of 9/11. Despite his unit just having completed the final qualification for combat readiness and being fully prepared for deployment to Afghanistan, the call didn’t come for his unit, and Gilbertson eventually transferred to the US Army headquarters in Europe where he served as a briefing officer for the mobilization and deployment of forces in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In 2003, Gilbertson left active duty and returned to Fargo, where he took his first job at RDO. He worked in ag sales and human resources before, two years to the day after joining RDO, he was called back into active service and deployed to Iraq.
In Iraq, Adam commanded a mechanized infantry company, consisting of 168 soldiers and 14 Bradley Fighting Vehicles that was deployed to Iraq’s Anbar province between Ramadi and Fallujah. Gilbertson’s and his company’s responsibilities were wildly diverse during this time. They were part diplomats — getting to know local leaders and doing civil affairs and infrastructure improvement projects — and part protectors — patrolling towns, defending a US air base and defending the population from hostile insurgents. In late 2006, they became the first unit in Iraq to be extended as part of President Bush’s surge strategy. The company’s deployment to Iraq lasted 16 months, but with the training before deployment, the unit was away from Minnesota for a total of 23 months — a deployment at the time that was longer than any military unit had experienced since World War II.
Gilbertson’s interest in technology also has roots in his military service. His company was one of the first non-special forces US military units to use UAVs in combat, which offered unprecedented perspective, insight, and real-time intelligence of the battlefield. Today, Gilbertson views equipment technology similarly, offering customers a better way to see and control the work they’re trying to accomplish every day.
At the end of his deployment in Iraq, Gilbertson chose to end his Army career after nine years and returned to RDO. In addition to his unique experience with technology, today, he uses the perspective and leadership skills gained during his service to understand the relationship between day-to-day operations and the bigger picture, striking a balance between empathy and clear-eyed direction, no matter the obstacle at hand.
In 1995, Travis Chase enlisted in the Army National Guard with the encouragement of his younger brother who had enlisted and completed basic training the previous year. Unbeknownst to Chase, the decision to enlist alongside his brother would lead him to a 21-year career that has since inspired a family legacy of military service.
Chase completed basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina before being stationed in Pendleton, Oregon, near where he grew up. During this time, Chase began to hone his skills as a light wheel mechanic in the 63 Bravo unit.
In 2004, Chase was deployed for the first time during Operation Iraqi Freedom for 18 months. While in Iraq, he worked on the Quick Response Force which focused on route recon. Chase and his team would move ahead of military convoys to check for improvised explosive devices to ensure safe passage. In 2010, he was deployed to Iraq for the second time for 12 months.
After 21 years in the military, Chase retired in 2016, having reached the rank of E6 Staff Sergeant.
After retirement, Chase worked in construction before finding a home at the RDO Equipment Co. store in Pendleton. At RDO, he can use his strong mechanic skills as a Service Technician.
“The military taught me how to adapt to any situation, which helps with my current work. I can fix both construction and agriculture equipment and work through any problem,” he said.
In recent years, Chase has been honored to watch both of his nephews and one of his cousins enlist in the military.
“The service was a great path for me, and I hope it is for them too,” he said. “I enjoyed being able to share my experience with my brother and now the next generation will be able to do the same.”
With a resume that has taken him across the world by ship, given him the chance to lead a team of more than 40 along with thousands of tons of large equipment, and given him an inordinate amount of experience, it’s safe to say Marine Corps veteran Taye McCurley has led a pretty full life.
And he's only 22.
McCurley grew up in Tyler, Texas, where he was recruited by the Marine Corps during high school. He enlisted in 2019 and completed his recruit training at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California. While at Camp Pendleton, he seized every opportunity that came his way. He attended Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where he was trained as a 3531-motor vehicle operator and a 3536 recovery specialist before his deployment in 2021.
He spent 10 months aboard a ship with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, where he traveled across the globe to Japan, Papa New Guinea, South China Sea, Guam and Australia.
After four years in the Marine Corps, McCurley was recruited to John Deere’s Skillbridge internship program — a program that aims to help service members integrate into civilian life through opportunities in the equipment industry. McCurley was placed at RDO Equipment Co. in Lakeside, California, as an intern in the trucking department before transitioning into the Service Manager role.
When reflecting on his experience, McCurley had a few pieces of advice for those also at the beginning of their careers. “Believe in yourself and take the opportunity to learn and make mistakes,” he said. “Whatever choice you make, follow through and do it to the best of your ability.”
Thank you to these and all RDO veterans for your service to our country and your commitment to our freedom.