Retired master sergeant Mike Fletchall, and his wife Debbie, stand behind the awards and gifts presented to them for their 33 years of service with the Missouri Army National Guard and the 30 years with Battery A, 1-129th Field Artillery in Albany. (Submitted Photo)
By Jennifer Archdekin
ALBANY, Mo. - It was 1975 and Mike Fletchall was a 17-year-old junior in high school when he made the life-altering decision to join the Missouri Army National Guard. Now after 33 years of service the retired master sergeant has hung up his combat boots.
By his side throughout his entire service has been his wife, Debbie, who was his girlfriend at the time he swore in as a Citizen-Soldier.
More than 30 years of his tenure was with Battery A, 1-129th Field Artillery in Albany, while the last three years Mike served with the 2175th Military Police Company in Hannibal.
Though Mike officially retired with the Hannibal unit, 1st Sergeant William Clark of Battery A said they wanted to bring him back to Albany to congratulate both Mike and Debbie on their more than three decades of service to Missouri and the United States, and to present Mike with an Army Commendation Medal.
"Alpha Battery brought him back to retire him from home," said Clark.
"They're just a great bunch of guys," said Mike. "No matter how young they are or how old they are, we've got common ground. We're just like a bunch of brothers. Where else can you go and have 125 brothers?"
Without a doubt, Debbie has done her share to support her husband over the years, along with the Missouri Guardsmen that serve in Albany.
"It was hard, but I support him," said Debbie. "I believe in what he does."
Debbie's support was tested every year when Mike was called away for two-week annual trainings, schools and of course a variety of deployments. Stateside, Mike was on duty during the northwest Missouri floods in 1993, traveled to Louisiana in 2005 to help with Hurricane Katrina, and in 2011 helped with the Joplin tornado relief efforts.
Mike spent time overseas during year-long deployments in 2003 to Germany and in 2008 to Kosovo. Most recently he also served in 2010 in Haiti for a few weeks.
"You have to go on," said Debbie. "You have to because you support him and believe in him. You got to keep the Family going."
Mike said that what he will miss most from his time in the National Guard are the people he served with.
"I just like being around them," said Mike. "They are good people."
The Fletchalls continue to serve with Battery A as volunteers with the Family Readiness Group that supports the Albany unit. The Fletchalls are originally from Grant City and now reside in Stanberry.
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