The Draft

At the age of 18 all males were required to register for the draft. Each county had a selective service office where you had to register. They have a selective service office who kept track of all of the young males who were eligible for the draft. This was before the lottery so your name was just on a list and when you worked up to #1 then you were the next one to go.  Our selective service officer was a lady by the name of the Marguerite Wallace. She was a shirttail cousin of my dad but that didn’t seem to make any difference. Marguerite’s claim to fame was her son was a starting guard for the Kansas State Wildcats on the 1955 to 1957 basketball teams. We lived on the farm north of Wells at the time and I remember dad getting to go to one of the games. I’m sure that was a huge thrill for him because he just didn’t get opportunities to do things like that. Ray & Fred and I sat around the radio in the kitchen and listened to the game.

Life on grandfather farm

On our move to Idaho we moved into the black building behind the car. Please don’t ask what kind of car as I do not know. The black house or tar paper shack, which is what it was, is where we lived when we first moved to Idaho. It was a 12ft x 12ft one room shack. I don’t remember how long we lived there but I can remember us kids sleeping in the car as we had no beds.

I wrote before that grandfather had said we could have land on his farm for a house. It ended up being a quarter of acre. My parents purchased a Sears Home. I assume you don’t know what a Sear Home was. After WWII, Sears sold homes that would be shipped in stick form to your location and you would assemble them from their plans. Father, his brother Harold, and a friend built it on nights and weekends. The house was 20ft x 20ft and had a kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms. There was no bathroom, no running water, and no electricity. Looking at the pictures there are no steps to the front door as we did not open it so we could have more room in the living room. This almost became fatal as we had a fire in the kitchen one night and had to scramble to get that door open to escape. Luckily there was not much damaged to the house.

I live there from age three until I was nine. My father was a truck driver and was never home. My mother worked at seasonal job, working in farm fields and the Simplots food processing plant. Us boys were left to ourselves and being out in the country we played cowboys and indians quite a bit. We also got to go to three or four vacation bible schools in the summer. They would pick us up on a bus and bring us home. One of the best things we got to do was go to the Saturday afternoon matinee movies. Every Saturday the movie theater would show cartoons and two western movies. It cost 10 cents to get in and you could get a all day sucker for a nickle. I think mother just wanted sometime for herself.

I might note my father and my grandfather new wife never got along. In the six years we lived there I can only remember being in grandfather house once. We were not allowed to go over there. Anyway grandfather wife talked him into moving to Arkansas. He sold the farm and we had to move. We lost everything concerning the house.

Where Should I Start

This project is the idea of my daughter, Rhonda Wood, and it is hard to know where to begin and what to write.

I think we should start with a little family history.

My grandparents on my father side were Dexter and Ann (Blair) Sissel. They lived in the Hurdland, Missouri and grandfather was a farmer and part time car mechanic. My grandmother died before I was born so I have no memories of her. Grandfather remarried and with his new wife, Almira, moved to Nampa, Idaho in the early forties.

My grandparents on my mother side were Zora and LaVade (Sparks) Smith. They lived in Graysville Missouri area and moved to Ottumwa, Iowa in thirties for grandfather to work at the Morrell meat packing plant. This was a great improvement over working in the coal mines where he worked before.

My parents John Howard and Ola Fairl (Smith) Sissel met while they both lived in Missouri. Father was a truck driver delivering coal and ice. Mother was a waitress and they met at her job. They were married and move to Ottumwa, Iowa and he worked a Morrell for a few years, but was forced to leave because of health reasons. They decided to move to Idaho to be near grandfather Sissel. He had purchased a ten acres farm and said he would give my father a half acre to build a home. Ten acres doesn’t sound like much by today standards, but it was a nice size family farm at that time.

First Fire Fight

I was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division which was headquartered at Pleiku. Pleiku was on the Western side of Vietnam at one end of Number 4 highway near the Central Highlands, sort of a low mountain range. We flew from Cam Ram Bay on a C130 and then were bused out to the base. I remember an enlisted man who was riding the bus with us. We were packed on the bus like sardines and this GI could tell that we were all scared to death. He told us not to worry, if we started taking fire to just hit the floor. That was not very confronting since we could barely move. After we had been “in country” for a while we realized that there was very little risk of any kind of attack in that particular area in broad daylight and that he had just been playing with us.

We spent a couple of days just hanging out waiting for our assignments. I was assigned to Company C, Mechanized Infantry. My squad was headquartered on a Personnel Carrier (PC). Each personnel carrier was equipped with a 50 caliber machine gun. We were squad 23. Our squad leader was Sargent William Taylor. And our PC driver was James Walker. They were the only two left in squad 23. They had been in an area near a village called Playmoran (sp) and more than half our company had been wounded or killed in battles. We sat by our PC for a couple of hours listening to “war stories” from Sargent Taylor and James and they told us how lucky we were that we weren’t a part of that. After a couple of hours we got orders to go back to that area. You talk about scared! We set up camp right outside of the village of Playmoran. During the day we would do patrols through the jungle and then at night all of the PC’s would be parked in a circle facing out. Each squad would have one person on guard duty all the time. There was probably 16-18 PC’s in our company and 2 or 3 tanks.

The third night we were there, the Montagnard men came over to our camp with rice wine. I didn’t drink any because I was new in country and had been warned not to accept anything from the Vietnamese. When it started getting dark the village men left our camp and went back to their village. We had guard duty throughout the night and would take turns sitting behind the 50 caliber machine gun. My duty began at 4 AM. Of course we slept in our clothes but I had taken my boots off. When it was time for me to go on guard duty I just slipped my boots on and didn’t bother to lace them up. I can’t recall how long I was I’m doing a whole older son I saw more PG that was him in my direction bouncing on the ground between me and Goddard to round at our camp. Then all hell broke loose! I have been in camper last someone week and was involved in a full-fledged bar by IBM firing a 50 caliber machine gun of course she didn’t see any of the MMA Machias parent in the dark decision to not break my bitch came back to Jaime. As I find a machine gun the heart casings were kicking out the side of the game. A couple of The casings landed inside of my boot resulting in severe burns to my ankles. I never failed to leave my boots again after that night. A couple of days later my squad leader told me that I had been credited with three kills because there were three dead Vietnamese found in front of my position. He said he was going to put me in for a mobile but I never heard anymore about it. Also he told me I was eligible for a Purple Heart because of the burns on my feet but I declined. Many times over the years I have seen my RPG bouncing on the ground in front of my position thank God it was a dud! Well the guards on the other side of campus not as fortunate and he took a direct hit killing him instantly. Our driver complemented me after the fire fight for holding my position. Some of the other new guys bailed out of their guard positions when the shooting started forcing a lot of the veterans to take over their position. And important lesson was learned by meThat morning and I realized that the family villagers who are offering us wine and who we were there to protect where I sleep trying to get us drunk so he will sleep through our garden and get overrun by the North Vietnamese army after performing a certain destroy the leaves that morning we were pulled back to Pleiku and I was glad to go.

Some Summaries: Education, Work, Living Locations

EDUCATION (Formal and Informal) SUMMARY
Oakwood Elementary 1975 -1981
Jefferson Middle School 1981 – 1984
Preston High School 1984 -1988
Brigham Young University 1988 – 1989 and 1989 – 1990
Lift Truck Driver Certification Course
Commercial Driver’s License Multilevel Test (knowledge and skill)
Toastmasters 2016 – Past 50 years of age
John Maxwell Certification 2018
U.H.K. (University of Hard Knocks…aka life.) 1969 to Death
Formal schooling is but a small portion of what life has to teach. Regardless if a person has chosen a path of a great deal of education, or a path of learning by experience, this truth is constant: True learning is achieved when a person takes responsibility for their own learning, and feeds learning by curiosity, study, and application.



Birth to age 18 1969 to 1988
687 North 8th West
Preston, Idaho 83263

Age 18 to 19 1988 to 1989
Provo, Utah. Brigham Young University, on campus Hinckley Dorm
Pleasant Grove, Utah. Lived with my Aunt DeVonna Hansen before serving a full-time religious mission.

Age 19 to 21 1989 to 1991
South Africa: Pretoria, Witbank (two separate times), Roodeport (9 months) Welkom

Age 21 to 26 1991 to 1996
Provo and Orem, Utah
Orem, Utah. Lived with Aunt DeVonna Hansen in Orem until I married Marya Durtschi.
Provo, Utah. Lived in a single-wide, two bedroom trailer close to work for about 18 months.
Orem, Utah. Lived in s single-wide trailer that an extra room and garage had been built onto. Only live there for 6 months. Probably would not have bought it had we known a work transfer was in the near future.

Age 26 to 29 1996 to 1999
Idaho Falls, Idaho. Lived in an apartment for a few months until our home in Rigby was built and ready to occupy.
Rigby, Idaho. Lived in a three-bedroom, two bathroom home on an acre of farm ground
4257 East 100 North
Rigby, Idaho 83442

Age 29 to 50+?
Driggs, Idaho. Live in the home Marya was raised in. The total square footage is near 5000. The original structure was built in 1947. A three story cinderblock house with 2 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms, and some smaller rooms that changed purposes. The basement is unfinished.
An addition was put on in the late 1980s of log which had a basement woodshop, one extra bathroom, and two large main level, and upstairs rooms.

We didn’t move, but our address changed due to county alterations
8 South 275 East 2195 South Stateline Road
Driggs, Idaho 83422 Driggs Idaho, 834222


When young, Dad and Mom would most often take family vacations to Portland, Oregon and the Oregon coast because three of mom’s siblings lived there. I grew to love the Oregon coast line. All up and down it.

In fact, I liked it so much that, at age fifty, I am making plans to make southwest Oregon home for at least a few months of the year. A few of the snowiest months: January to March and possibly April. As of the writing of this personal history, Marya and I have made arrangements to stay in Sutherlin, Oregon during part of winter.

Ballon Ride

As I’ve gotten older, it is so fun to celebrate birthdays with my sisters. The fall of 2018 we decided to do something on Nadine’s bucket list. Nadine asks for so few things. I contacted a balloon guy in Topeka. Since Nadine’s birthday is in November we knew we were going to be early but wanted to do it whenever the time worked out. We started planning for our ride in August. We had many Saturday mornings that didn’t work out. I was beginning to think it would never happen. Lo and behold October 28 (Sunday evening) we (Pam, Nadine, Rob and I) took off from the Industrial Park in Minneapolis and had a beautiful balloon ride. Rob loved it and we loved watching his experience. It was so fun!

Level 40 to 50 – 2010 to 2020

I realized as I was creating this personal history that I talked quite a bit about work related subject, and not a lot about family. Why? Well, I think t is because work filled a lot of my time and energy, but also because those work experiences were unique to me. Not even my family new what I did on a day to day basis.

But, I feel we had a good balance in much of our family activities. We work together, we play together, we learn together, we take vacations together. One tradition we have kept that is easy to overlook the significance of is that we almost always ate one meal together around the kitchen table each day. Sometimes we talked about nothing in particular. At other times we had some involved conversations. The point being, we valued the time communicating with each other face to face, and meal time gave us that opportunity.

I thought I would just share with you a little about each family member and where they are now, or what they are doing now…

Marya. She loves to bird watch. This love of birds gave rise to another hobby. She purchased a quality camera to take pictures with, and started taking pictures of landscapes, and our children’s events. This secondary hobby has given her opportunity to create books and slide shows to share place, memories, and events with others. I tell people, “I am not much of a bird watcher, but I can be a good bird watcher-watcher.”

Taylor. Taylor is very creative. He is good with his hands. When he sets his mind to creating something or doing a particular task, he does it with lots of energy and focus. As of this writing he lives at home and works for his aunt Beth helping to clean her AirBnB rental spaces.

Caleb. Caleb graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington with a degree in Studio Arts. He is also living at home. Caleb loves running. He had such a positive experience with running from middle school, high school, and college that he has now accepted the position as our high school’s head cross country coach. A position he shares with another Teton High alumi. He also works for the school district, right now as a physical education teacher and paraprofessional at the Tetonia elementary school

Sapphire. She graduated from Brigham Young University – Idaho in Early Childhood Development. As of this writing she still has one “wrap up” class to do and her internship to receive the degree, but for all intents and purposes, she is done. She is very talented in working with children, and was before she received her degree. She has moved to Preston, Idaho, and is living with my parents to help them, and working in Cache Valley area.

Crystal. Crystal is in her third year at Grinnell College in Iowa. She is studying Biology with the intent of working for a places like the National Park Service, National Forest, Fish and Game Management, or some place like that. She has already worked for the National Park Service for 3 summers. She loves playing soccer and was able to walk on to the intercollegiate women’s soccer team at college.

Jade. Jade is now in her first year at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. She is taking general credits at the moment, but she is leaning toward a career in creative writing or editing…something along those lines.

Crystal (Big Crystal). Her and her husband live in Teton Valley. She manages the local US Bank branch and loves spending time with her husband Scott and son Cooper, and are expecting their second child this winter.

My work is going very well. I help take care of the state and federal compliance work for some guys that own trucks in the oil fields of North Dakota, and make sure the pay for the work is right. I spend a lot of time working on the computer, texting, emails, and phone calls. My clients are happy if I can keep them from having to sit in front of a computer because they are “hands on” type of men that like to build houses, fix things with an engine, etc.

I attend Toastmasters meetings regularly. Toastmasters has helped me to overcome my fear of public speaking. I have even been paid to speak for business and professional organizations. I have one a few speech contests. This organization helped me stopped worrying about what was going on in my head…the nervousness, the anxiety….and focus on the message, and eliminate things that distract rather than compliment a message.

Chris Harris is my best bud. We do things on a regular basis. We worked together at the construction supply store, and now we try to have a meal together regularly, and attend a few events. If I could choose one word that described Chris best it would be congenial.

Marya and I went out of the country for the first time in over 20 years this last summer. After taking Jade to college we went over to the Vancouver area in British Columbia, Canada. We went to a botanical garden, a bird conservatory, and the Vancouver temple. We then went to visit a friend, Cherie Scarpino, who lives way up north. We were able to help her insulate the skirting around her home, and we visited an old gold mining town called Barkerville.

How to I feel at fifty? Very good. My health is good. I enjoy my work. We have a loving family. We live in a beautiful area. I enjoy serving in the church. I am striving to live a life that positively contributes to those around me. My personal and business motto comes from a quote by Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”