A Year in the Guard: Sprinting Through to Retirement

“I came back to Minnesota and was done with the military. I was literally out. But I had these uniforms hanging in my closet and I couldn’t throw them out. I thought, ‘It would just be nice to wear those things out.’”

Command Chief Master Sgt. Mark Legvold enlisted in the Active Duty Air Force as a firefighter in 1990. He served for 5 years before being released early to complete his Bachelor of Arts degree at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, just 40 minutes north of his hometown of Northfield.

Being out of the service did not suit him for long, however, as it was less than one month before the future Air Force Chief discovered the Air National Guard.

“I showed up [at the 133rd Airlift Wing], they took me to the fire station where I met the full-time guy. He checked my certifications and said, ‘Sure, come on in.’” Legvold recounted.

For the next 10 years, while serving as an Air Force firefighter on the weekends, Legvold served as a teacher and administrator in the St. Paul Public School system. He followed in his father’s footsteps as an educator, but also as a farmer. The two work together on a family farm in Northfield where they raise corn and soybeans.

“I’ve been an educator for most of my professional life,” Legvold said. “Whether you’re in a classroom teaching little kids or you’re leading in the military, you’re always teaching– at least if you’re doing it right. You’re growing the next generation of Soldiers; you’re growing the next generation of Airmen—so I’m hoping to continue to do that type of work. Teach people how to take good care of the folks they’re leading in the workplace.”

Since Chief Legvold assumed the role as Command Chief at the 133rd Airlift Wing in February 2020, he has been taking slow and deliberate steps to approach his transition from full-time military service to retirement from the military and whatever may come next.  “Just getting emotionally ready was a process.”

“I will leave with regrets because the job is never really done. Regrets, but with a full heart is really what I want to leave with,” Legvold reflected. “I’ll have a full heart because I know I’ve got really wonderful people behind me and that’s something that just gives me a lot of good feelings.”

Command Chief Master Sgt. Legvold’s guidance to the enlisted force under him has been to “sprint through.” He plans to be very tired with a full heart on the day he leaves the Wing.

Army Staff Sgt. Linsey Williams

Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

Editor’s note: To gain full insight into how a year of service in the Minnesota National Guard looks, the Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs team will be sharing the experiences of four service members periodically throughout 2023, all of whom are at different stages of their careers. For Chief Legvold, his journey will focus on transitioning from a career in military service to retirement and civilian life.