When Gregg Warland, of Fort Dodge, arrived at U.S. Marine Corps boot camp in 1978, he already had some military experience under his belt.
He went to high school at the Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Mo.
"It was a private school," he said. "We wore uniforms and had supervised study."
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Marine veteran Gregg Warland, of Fort Dodge, holds a flag flown over a base in Afghanistan. Warland, who served during the Cold War, is active in several local organizations that help his fellow veterans.
His Cold War-era Marine Corps service took place in Camp Lejeune, N.C.
While his official designation was infantryman, he worked as a printer.
"We printed a lot of forms and overlaying maps," he said.
During field exercises, they would work in a semitrailer with a press installed in it.
"We would go out into the field and put nets over it," he said.
In addition, he also served a year on the base's rifle team and the marksmanship training unit.
He found life in the Corps gave him an interesting exposure to Marines from all over the U.S.
"You'd become friends with a guy from Jersey who wore slacks and went to discos," he said. "Here in Iowa it was jeans and flannel."
He enjoyed that diversity and the camaraderie the Marine Corps offered.
Once he finished his enlistment in 1982, he joined the Army Reserve. He was assigned to a supply and transport unit stationed in Ames. At the same time, he worked full time, attended Iowa State University and got married.
He's now keeping busy with several veterans organizations dedicated to helping those who served.
He joined the Patriot Guard in 2008. They help with body escorts and form flaglines at military funerals.
He's also a member of the American Legion Riders and is currently the Fort Dodge chapter's vice president.
The group hosts the annual J.J. Bonnell Memorial Poker run, which provides a scholarship for a St. Edmond High School graduate.
In addition, he's also the Commander of the Sons of the American Legion.
The group, for sons of Legion members, is part of the Legion family that also includes the Auxiliary.
He's also a member of the Mid-Iowa detachment of the Marine Corps League.
The group helps fellow mellow Marines and serves as a resource and connection.
Wardell is also part of a program with his fellow Legion Riders where they visit veterans in local nursing homes. They go one Saturday a month from September to August.
The special relationship and bond between veterans helps the residents.
"A lot of them will talk about things they don't talk about with their family," he said. "It all goes on the table, we understand, you understand."
He's also active in helping Enabled Veterans Outdoors. The local group has a 40-acre plot near Humboldt where disabled veterans can hunt deer and turkey. There are trails that lead to chair-accessible hunting blinds.
He frequently takes hunters out for another experience.
"I will take those guys pheasant hunting," he said.
His latest service has been becoming a volunteer at the Paula J. Baber Hospice Home; he completed their volunteer training in May.
He visits with residents and has found that for many, there are times where they find it easier to talk to a fellow veteran rather than a family member.
He is currently working with the Hospice Home to get a "We Honor Vets" program going at the center that might include such things as flags on patients' doors and other ways to honor them.
He's also been involved with the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flights.
He went on the Sept. 10 flight as a guardian and is hoping to go again with his dad, Robert Warland, in May.
He's glad to see those vets get recognition for their sacrifice.
"They never asked for anything," he said.
He's also involved with the Incarcerated Veterans Organization at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility. He's proud of the many things the group has done. They help sponsor Leader Dogs, provide Christmas gifts for visitors' children and roses for moms visiting on Mother's Day.
"I'm their liaison with the outside world," he said.
He became involved with the group when they sent a donation.
"They heard about the poker run," he said. "They sent us a check for $500."
The group also helped provide a memorial stone for Lt. Terrence H. Griffey. The Fort Dodge native was killed on May 26, 1966, in South Vietnam.
Griffey is near and dear to Warland. He wears a memory bracelet with Griffey's name. Griffey is also honored with an annual award at St. Edmond High School for the student with the greatest combined academic and athletic performance.
"I buy the winner of that award a bracelet like mine," Warland said.