The National Guard came calling once his Navy career had ended

  • Lt. Colonel Mark Patterson hugs his family after the departure ceremony for the 941st Military Police Battalion and 237th Military Police Company at the NH Army National Guard training complex in Pembroke on Monday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Lt. Colonel Mark Patterson looks over at his family as Gov. Chris Sununu talks about the sacrifice of families Monday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • PFC Brenna Lynn salutes at the departure ceremony for the 941st Military Police Battalion and 237th Military Police Company at the NH Army National Guard training complex in Pembroke on Monday.

  • Maddy Krauklin, 6, hugs her father, Captain Pete Krauklin after the departure ceremony for the 941st Military Police Battalion and 237th Military Police Company at the NH Army National Guard training complex in Pembroke on Monday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Lt. Colonel Mark Patterson speaks to the troops at the departure ceremony for the 941st Military Police Battalion and 237th Military Police Company at the NH Army National Guard training complex in Pembroke on Monday, October 3, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Members of the police units at the departure ceremony for the 941st Military Police Battalion and 237th Military Police Company at the NH Army National Guard training complex in Pembroke on Monday, October 3, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Maddy Krauklin, 6, hugs her father, Captain Pete Krauklin after the departure ceremony for the 941st Military Police Battalion and 237th Military Police Company at the NH Army National Guard training complex in Pembroke on Monday, October 3, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Members of the police units at the departure ceremony for the 941st Military Police Battalion and 237th Military Police Company at the NH Army National Guard training complex in Pembroke on Monday, October 3, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor columnist
Published: 10/4/2022 6:27:32 PM

Mark Patterson of Weare had it all figured out.

Fresh off six-years of service in the Navy, he’d then finish his business degree at what was then called New Hampshire College. He’d be a college graduate, the first member of his family to do so.

He’d climb the corporate ladder. He’d have a wife and kids. He’d come home and have dinner with them. He never planned to be thousands of miles away for what seemed like an eternity.

The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, changed everything. Planes were crashing and Patterson, very quickly, knew a sharp pivot from those earlier goals (he earned his degree) would be necessary. In response, he joined the National Guard and made it his life’s work. 

This week, as a lieutenant colonel in the Guard and commander of the 941st Military Police Battalion, Patterson was one of the key figures during a ceremony honoring 164 Guard members from the Granite State, who will deploy to our southeastern border with Mexico later this month.

A date has not been announced.

The soldiers under Patterson’s command will monitor the border areas, adding extra sets of eyes to help officials do their jobs more efficiently. They are not permitted to engage with anyone suspected of crossing the border illegally.

Patterson on Monday stood in front of soldiers in Guard fatigues, on a giant sea of manicured grass at the National Guard on Sheep Davis Road in Pembroke, praising the men and women under his command for their selfless acts during natural disasters, war and worldwide infection.

He cited numbers, like the more than 800,000 vaccines administered by the Guard in the state during the pandemic, and the delivery of 400,000 pounds of food.

Patterson, though, never saw this coming. Not as a  military career man. Serving six years in the Navy placed him proudly in a long line of military family members. That was important to him. His father served in Vietnam, his paternal grandfather in the Pacific during World War II, his maternal grandfather fought in Europe during World War I.

“I had done my service as a veteran,” Patterson said shortly after Monday’s speeches were finished. “I planned on moving on with my life and becoming a citizen again.”

Then the planes struck and thousands died. At about the same time that Patterson’s military career was winding down. The end of active duty went into effect on Sept. 12, just a few short hours following the mayhem. His path became clear.

“My mom calls and tells me to turn on the TV,” Patterson said. “I turn it on and the second plane hit and I immediately knew I was going to come back in some capacity.”

He was single then, a college student.

“I was emotionally moved by 9-11,” Patterson said, “and coming from my service in the navy and my family’s military background, I could not just sit around and do nothing, so I joined the Guard.”

Patterson knew the danger of such an expansive and complex war, but like so many others, he was ready to fight.

“If you remember back then,” Patterson said, “we were all pretty pissed off. My dad is a combat veteran, and so is each man in my family line. I had to do my part.”

He became a full-time Guardsman in 2004. 

The Guard’s mission later this month at the southeastern border will be Patterson’s fifth deployment. He served in Afghanistan in 2008 and ‘09.

He recently returned from Kuwait. This next mission is for one year. A year away from his wife and children.

“As the kids get older, it makes it a little bit easier,” Patterson said.

And once upon a time, before the Global War on Terror, Patterson didn’t see himself this way. He had served, a college education was on the horizon and a new chapter in his life was supposed to unfold.

And as a matter of fact, it did.

“I had not considered doing this as a careerist,” Patterson said. “I only saw it as a call to service. I never thought I would do this for 20 or 30 years.

“But what happened that day was all it took.”


Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.



Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301
603-224-5301

 

© 2021 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy