Leaving three sisters: Buchholtz follows family role models into service
EAST TROY Dawn Buchholtz never expected one of her children to enlist in the Army National Guard.
"Maybe if I would have had four boys," the East Troy woman said. "But I had four girls."
Later this month, her oldest daughter, Pfc. Danielle Buchholtz, 21, will begin her journey to Iraq as a member of the Janesville-based Alpha Company.
"I'm excited, I'm nervous, I'm a lot of things," Danielle said with a laugh. "I'm not sure what to expect."
She'll miss her family, especially her little sister Hannah, 10.
"She's asked if I'm leaving, and I said, 'Yes,' and she said, 'OK,' but I'm not sure how much she understands," Buchholtz said.
Danielle signed up during her freshman year at UW-Whitewater.
She was interested in the money for school, but more important, her family has a long history of military service.
"My great-grandfather served in World War II; I had a grandfather who was in World War II; my other grandfather was in Vietnam, and I have an uncle that was in Desert Storm and Desert Shield," Buchholtz said.
She also had uncles in the Coast Guard and the Air Force.
Dawn said Danielle was impressed by a member of the National Guard she met at freshman orientation.
"She met a woman who was just amazing—dynamic and really strong," Dawn said. "They just connected."
Danielle's pretty dynamic herself. Her mother described her as a "homebody," and that might be true, but she also displays a quiet confidence unusual to 21-year-olds.
She'll be a truck driver in Iraq and recently was chosen to be her unit's historian.
She's also taken on the role of helping her family prepare for her deployment.
"She maintains a very positive attitude; she keeps the line of communication open," Dawn said. "She feels very good about the group she's with—their camaraderie and their experiences together."
Danielle's sisters—Rebecca, Rachel and Hannah—are proud of her and concerned, too.
"I'm nervous about it, but I'm really happy for her because it's something she's really passionate about," Rebecca said in a phone interview from East Lansing, Mich., where she attends Michigan State University on track and academic scholarships.
Rebecca thinks about Danielle every day and prays about it in her Bible study group.
"When I walk across campus to track practice, I always see the ROTC guys out running," Rebecca said. "I want to go up to them and thank them for their service—and tell them about my sister. (Because of her) I know how hard they work."
Hannah described her sister as "loving and caring."
"She's like a fun sister," Hannah said. "We play board games, like Monopoly or Sorry!, and sometimes we go to the movies."
Of course, loving your sister doesn't mean you'd give her a break in Sorry!
Hannah said she always felt free to knock her sister's game pieces right off back to start.
"It's fun, but she always gets me back," Hannah said.
Hannah will miss her sister.
"It feels kind of happy and kind of sad at the same time," Hannah said. "I'm happy that she's going to fight for her country and sad because she's going to be away from home."