Hometown Hero – Ian Placek
By David Morse American Heroes Outdoors
DO YOU KNOW A HERO? Someone who has done something extraordinary? If so, send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org or Jon Mitzel at email@example.com for a chance to be published inside the pages of Dakota Country Magazine and www.dakotacountrymagazine.com and win “American Heroes Outdoors Gear!”
Ian Placek was born and raised in Crosby, North Dakota. He joined the North Dakota National Guard in February of 2007 at the young age of 17. After completing basic training and advanced training to become a Combat Engineer, he moved to Bismarck, where he attended the line men program through Bismarck State College. During school, he worked at Menards before getting hired by an irrigation company that was just starting up in the area. He graduated from the line men program in the spring of 2009.
Most people never get to experience the life of a citizen soldier. Not only do you deal with the fast-paced civilian life but you add the demands of the military as well. Over the next few years he worked countless hours a week and went to drills and annual trainings to remain proficient should he ever be called to deploy.
In 2011 he was in the process of starting a business with another guard member to do trenching on oil locations, he and his partner had big plans. But it would have to wait. Placek’s unit, the 818th Engineer Company out of Williston, North Dakota was notified it was deploying to support The Global War on Terror.
Growing up Placek never travelled much, but after just a couple of years in the guard he had flown in a plane more times than he could count. Within less than a year of being notified he was aboard a plane headed to Texas for a month of training prior to their final destination. The 818th Engineer’s mission was set for a nine-month tour in Afghanistan. Once in Afghanistan their unit’s mission was to detect the road side bombs and clear them. (Virtually to seek out the enemy’s planted explosives and get rid of them to clear the way for other units!)
December 3, 2012 is a day that changed Placek’s life forever. His unit was on a mission north of their home base; it was supposed to be a simple mission to escort a group of Navy Seabees. They had a long way to travel, so clearing the whole route was not an option.
Placek was in the lead vehicle with two other men. On the return, they hit an IED, killing the 2 other men, and trapping Placek in a burning vehicle. After several minutes Placek was able to escape the burning vehicle and was medevacked to an area to be treated. We will never forget SFC Darren Linde and SPC Tyler Orgaard from North Dakota who gave their lives on that day for their brothers, for their unit, and for their country.
Suffering 1st and 2nd degree burns to his back and upper extremities and several broken bones in his foot, Placek began the road to physical recovery. After several months of being away from home in hospitals and being a part of the warrior transition unit he was able to return home.
Today he uses the outdoors as his therapy. For Placek, as it is for many returning soldiers being outside hunting and fishing is a peaceful escape from an otherwise chaotic world. Placek loves sharing his passion for the outdoors with others and being able to meet others and share his story. In the name of service to others Placek always gives 100%, is never one to complain, and is a pinnacle of selflessness.
Placek will continue to help others selflessly as an ambassador of American Heroes Outdoors continuing the mission to “Tell the stories of our nations true heroes & showcase the great outdoors!”