CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - North Dakota National Guard Sgt. Terry L. Rishling was remembered Monday by those who he served with as a role model and a father figure in a platoon of relatively young Soldiers.

Fellow KFOR Soldiers in Multi-National Battle Group-East, including Lt. Col. Lee Nordin, Grand Forks, N.D., battalion commander of the 231st Maneuver Task Force (MTF), lined up during a ceremony here to memorialize their fallen friend who died suddenly of natural causes Feb. 11 while deployed on a NATO peacekeeping mission.

The ceremony opened with Nordin, who called Rishling, a committed father, a dedicated husband to his wife, Nancy, a friend to everyone he met and a warrior willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for a grateful nation.

"When you met Terry, you never forgot who he was," Nordin said.

The ceremony also was attended by Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann, Bismarck, N.D., MNBG-E commander; and Command Sgt. Maj. Jack W. Cripe, Dickinson, N.D., senior enlisted Soldier in MNBG-E.

But it was the words of those Soldiers who looked up to Rishling as a quiet leader that carried special meaning during the ceremony.

"He touched so many of our lives," said Sgt. Samuel Hemphill, Bismarck, Rishling's squad leader. "He brought a mature outlook to a fairly young platoon. After meeting Terry and getting to know him, you knew you had changed; you were better for knowing him; I was better for knowing him.

"His work ethic was outstanding. He would supervise and pitch in at the same time, often doing twice the work of his troops and taking half of the breaks. He was a fine example of an NCO and I'm sure I learned more from him than he had learned from me."

Sgt. Ashley Timian, Fargo, N.D., said that Rishling left an indelible mark on the lives of each of his platoon mates.

"He was a guy who could make anyone laugh, and when he laughed, he made everyone around him laugh," Timian said. "No matter how awful a day you could be having, he could always make you feel better.

Timian said Rishling was a great mentor for the young Soldiers with whom he served.

"He saw things in life so differently than we see them," she said. "I learned so much from Terry and will carry them with me always. Our squad will never be the same, but we will be better in life and what we do because of Sgt. Rishling."

Sgt. 1st Class Gabriel Gietzen, Glen Ullin, N.D., Rishling's platoon sergeant, said Rishling was an outstanding team leader and Soldier, and his service was marked with excellence.

Final tributes also were given by 1st Lt. Anthony Bryant, Leonard, N.D., Alpha Company, 231st MTF commander; and Chaplain (1st Lt.) Brock Sailer, Cando, N.D., 231st MTF battalion chaplain.

The ceremony concluded with a "final role call" sounded by Sgt. 1st Class Kendall Struxness, Jamestown, N.D., followed by the firing of volleys and the solemn playing of Taps.

A memorial was set up in the auditorium, giving Soldiers the opportunity to honor Rishling with a final salute as they filed out.

"He is definitely irreplaceable and will be forever missed and never forgotten," Timian said.

Rishling, 38, was a team leader for Third Squad, Third Platoon of the 231st MTF, based in Valley City, N.D.

He enlisted with Charlie Company, 141st Engineer Combat Battalion, Bismarck, N.D., of the North Dakota Army National Guard, on July 13, 2001. On Sept. 1, 2005, he joined Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), 141st Engineer Combat Battalion in Valley City, and then transferred to Alpha Company, 231st Brigade Support Battalion (BSB) on Sept. 26, 2006.

Rishling is survived by his wife, Nancy A. (Gailfus) Rishling; daughters, Sophie E. Rishling, 8, and Courtney M. Rishling, 20, Fargo; his parents, John and Gloria Rishling, Belcourt, N.D; and siblings Colette Nadeau, John Jr. and Mindy Rishling, Kathy and Lee Delong, Dixie Rishling, Tracy and JD Nables, and Roni and Stacy Rishling.

Multi-National Battle Group - East is a U.S- led task force commanded by Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann. This Battle Group is comprised of nearly 2,200 Soldiers, including Task Force Hellas and Task Force POL/UKR (Polish/Ukraine). The charter mission of MNBG-E is maintaining a Safe and Secure Environment and providing Freedom of Movement for the people in Kosovo.
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