Long-time National Guard Member Shannon Meddaugh Retires, Shares 9/11 Experience

From A1C to Major, Meddaugh has made her mark on the National Guard

Marshfield (OnFocus) – When Shannon Meddaugh enlisted in the National Guard in 2001, she had no idea what the career ahead of her would hold.

On her way to boot camp, two planes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and her plane was grounded. Tragedy struck the United States and in the midst of it was a frightened army recruit, stranded in Oklahoma.

“When you go to boot camp, you don’t carry anything with you, you’re not allowed to,” Meddaugh said. “I was in civilian clothes and all I had was a manilla folder on me and these two guys came up to me and said, ‘I bet you’re going to boot camp.’ And I said, ‘Yes I am.’ and they realized that I didn’t have anything with me like money or anything. So they took me under their wing and paid for a hotel for me because we were there in the middle of Oklahoma for a couple of days.”

The men were later reimbursed for their kindness by Meddaugh’s home unit in Minneapolis but their generosity has stuck with her for years.

After reaching her boot camp in Texas, Meddaugh described the scene as “chaotic”.

Initially enlisting in Minneapolis, Meddaugh underwent a six-year enlistment contract in which she was activated for five of those years.

Over those five years, Meddaugh guarded former U.S. President George W. Bush, was deployed on Diego Garcia island in the middle of the Indian Ocean and in Minneapolis.

While on Diego Garcia Island, Meddaugh said that was her first deployment so it was pretty nerve-racking.

“That was my first overseas deployment ever so I had no idea what to expect,” Meddaugh said. “I was new to the military completely when all this stuff happened with 9/11. So I was definitely missing my family and homesick and scared because I didn’t know what to expect.”

Initially, Meddaugh was studying to be a police officer. She then realized her true love was for health care and decided to go to school to be a nurse instead. She began her nursing career as a flight nurse in Minneapolis and when she graduated, nurses in the Minneapolis area were on strike so she thought she had an easy opportunity to begin her career.

Meddaugh applied at Mayo Clinic and shortly afterwards, their employment contracts were rescinded as the strike ended and the hospitals went on a hiring freeze.

After originally growing up in the Granton area, Meddaugh moved back to Marshfield to get a job when she found her significant other and started to raise a family. Her career as a flight nurse ended when she began having kids.

“Being a flight nurse, I would have been gone for nine months out of the year and I did not want to do that so I switched my career,” Meddaugh said. “I decided to be a clinic nurse in the Madison unit and that’s where I have been for the past 10 years and where I’ve just retired from.”

Meddaugh said she looks forward to being able to spend more time with family because up to this point, she hasn’t been afforded that opportunity.

“They asked me if I would stay but to tell you the truth, my daughter is going to be 10 and I have yet to be home for one of her birthdays,” Meddaugh said. “I’ve always had drill or have been gone and life is too short. Family is more important to me right now.”

The camaraderie is something that Meddaugh will always remember. She said she even keeps in contact with a majority of her friends that she has made over the years in the National Guard.

Now, Meddaugh works as a Nurse Practitioner at Marshfield Clinic in Stevens Point where she has been employed for 13 years, 10 as a nurse and three as a Nurse Practitioner. In retirement, Meddaugh will be working full-time, running her three kids to different events and helps her fiancé Troy manage their 10 Airbnb properties around Marshfield.

With three kids under 10 years old, Meddaugh might have her hands full now more than ever.

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Neal Hogden
Author: Neal Hogden