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The Packer Weekly: Reitan marches to his own drum

As a sophomore, a senior Nathan Reitan knew there was a difference between people who said they would succeed at a goal and people who do.

Reitan, who joined Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) as a sophomore, has completed one of his high school goals this year when he was made Battalion Executive Officer.

“It’s the highest [rank] that I can get since I joined sophomore year,” Reitan said. “I can’t get the highest rank because I haven’t been in it for four years.”

The highest rank is Battalion Commander, held by senior Eric Thibert, but Reitan will be plenty busy with what is demanded of his own rank.

“I will be in charge of the staff and what they do for day to day operations in JROTC,” Reitan said. “It has taught me a lot of things, everything from patience to organization and then everything that goes along with that in any leadership aspect. I can definitely take it into the military, which I plan on doing.”

Reitan joined because he realized he needed a new challenge in high school.

“I originally joined JROTC because through scouting I had come to the conclusion that I was coming to an end and I got the highest rank at the age of 16,” Reitan said. “I knew that I needed something more to work for during my high school career, so JROTC was definitely a good choice for me.”

When Reitan originally joined in sophomore year, he thought he was dead-set on becoming a field-medic but, after being sat down and talked to about what exactly that position entailed, he realized that he would excel at a different aspect.

“One of their main missions is to persuade you out of the Army and one of the things I plan on doing is being a geospatial analyst in the North Dakota Air Guard,” Reitan said. “I would be doing everything from launching and recovering and gathering satellites to taking the pictures off of the satellites to actually operating and analyzing video surveillance.”

Reitan’s parents are now retired Air Guard members. His mother, Michelle, was a Senior Master Sergeant E8 and was enlisted for 26 years. Reitan’s father, Michael, was a Chief Master Sergeant E9 and served for 32 years.

“Nathan has had an interest in military history since he was very young,” Michael said. “Nathan has indicated a high interest in being in the military and has the discipline and understanding necessary to make him successful in the military. He exhibits leadership characteristics that will serve him well.”

At such a high rank, Nathan admits that he went into the job with a few different ideas but quickly realized how serious his job was and works hard to help improve what he can.

“It’s very hard because being in such a high leadership role you think it’s all, ‘oh, I’m going to boss everyone around and be king of the castle,’ but it’s really you putting a lot of people before yourself,” Nathan said. “It’s a lot of responsibility and when something goes wrong, it might seem just the people who did it wrong are going to get in trouble, but it all comes back to me.”

One of Nathan’s leaders, Senior Army Instructor Doug Trenda, has helped to guide Nathan and answer his military questions. Trenda, who served in the military for 34 years as a Lieutenant Colonel, has been teaching JROTC for 10 years.

“He is an excellent worker,” Trenda said. “I think his scouting background really helped him in JROTC. He really understands leadership. He understands caring about other people, but he also understands that he has to lead them so he has to be a good leader. It all comes down to accomplishing the mission.”

Nathan understands the dangers of enlisting but feels that he has been well prepared and is willing to put in the extra work to achieve his goals.

“Nathan started late into the JROTC program so he had to work hard to advance to where he is at,” Michael said. “If a person prepares themselves well they have done everything they have control of. What happens beyond that you cannot worry about. This is the same for any career you select.”

(The Packer Weekly is an ongoing column authored by journalism students at West Fargo High School with the intent of providing awareness about and insight into a variety of school-related topics and activities. For additional information, visit