Norwegian Veteran Reaffirms Why We Serve

Frank Sandbye-Ruud

Frank Sandbye-Ruud served 20 years in the National Guard of Norway. He also served four years in the Norwegian Army and two and a half years in international service for the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He is currently a lecturer in the Wounded Warrior organization of Norway and a member of Team Rubicon Norway.

Operation Strike It Rich was my fourth deployment with Team Rubicon – I previously deployed with TR USA on three operations and once with TR UK. Initially, I received the call to muster for Neosho, Missouri but was diverted to support the flood response in Eureka, northeast of Neosho.

I was given the honor to be the Safety Officer for this operation. This was a new and exciting opportunity for me. The Safety Officer position is very important because Greyshirts in the field complete potentially dangerous tasks on a consistent basis. It was now my job to ensure their safety.

I was extremely impressed by the strike teams in the field while I was the Safety Officer. There were extremely few situations where I had to remind people to use personal protective equipment. Volunteers did a great job of following proper protocol when they were serving homeowners affected by the flood and worked together in unison. Watching the team work helped me realize one thing I didn’t focus on before.

I am not blind to the facts that sometimes we don’t match perfectly, and there can be tensions between individuals. We are human after all. But I’ve yet to experience any tension within Team Rubicon. A Greyshirt is truly a brother or sister to other Greyshirts. When you arrive on the forward operating base, whether it’s your first operation or you’ve been around for years; you are met with open arms and friendly faces. Volunteers understand that we have a common goal. It unites us.

What I remember most when I think back to our time in the field are the smiles. Greyshirts were cleaning up debris and mucking out homes with childish grins on their faces. They knew how important the job was, not just for us, but especially for the homeowners who had lost almost everything.

I look back on a total demolition we completed that left a huge impression on me. The homeowners were present for part of the process. They watched as we tore down the place they called home for the last 25 years. The house was damaged by flood for the second time, and was left uninhabitable.

This house was where they had raised their kids, and started their lives. It was an extremely emotional situation for them. The wife started to cry as the house began to come down. Immediately, there was a volunteer there to comfort her. As the day went on, new Greyshirts stepped up to take the role of caretaker. Watching my teammates step up to comfort her was a beautiful sight.

This was not the first or last time I’d seen the hearts and minds of Greyshirts shine through to help someone in need.

During operations when we find objects that have the potential to carry personal value, we make sure to take them aside and present them to the homeowner. This goes for pictures, flags, and other items; especially when it can hold sentimental value. I feel very proud of who we are and what we do. We are only humans, but together we are so strong – as a unit, and as a community.