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The Daily



07-17-03: Down on the farm - Army style
The Daily Standard
    MINSTER - Phil Schmiesing knows how to make an entrance.
     Kids were jumping up and down and adults were snapping picture after picture as Schmiesing and a fellow U.S. Army pilot landed a pair of Kiowa Warrior helicopters in the backyard of a farmhouse near Minster on Wednesday.
    You might say he was "in the neighborhood and decided to stop by," his sister Sue McDaniel said with a laugh.
    "Bonnie Tzaraska (another sister on whose farmland the big choppers landed) heard he'd be in Fort Knox, Ky., and jokingly invited him to fly on up," McDaniel said. "A few minutes later he called back and said he got permission."
    Schmiesing, 44, is a 1976 graduate of Minster High School, and a 20-year veteran with the army. He is married to former Celina resident Robin Wolfe. The couple and their two children reside in North Carolina.
    Schmiesing served in the Persian Gulf and two tours in Bosnia, and currently is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. This week he and three other pilots flew to Fort Knox to do gunnery demonstrations for recent graduates of West Point. They decided a little detour to his sister's home on Bruns Road would be fun, they said.
    "When you've been in (the military) as long as I have, things are a little more flexible. The army doesn't tell you what to do anymore," he said with a smile.
    The other pilots, from Middlepoint, Goshen, Ind., and Southern California, graciously stepped back and let Schmiesing enjoy the spotlight in front of the 200 or so family members, friends and neighbors. The crowd was invited to the makeshift reunion with Schmiesing and to view the big birds, his sisters said.
    "Is this yours?" a small boy asked as he stared at the control panel inside the cockpit.
    "No, but I wish it was," Schmiesing, a warrant officer, answered.
    About 20 minutes after landing and hugging a few of his 11 siblings, he hurriedly asked one of the other pilots to radio back that the helicopters had reached their destination.
    "Yes, the army gets a little nervous when they don't hear from us for a while," he joked.
    Glancing back at the helicopter he piloted and sizing up the corn and wheat fields surrounding his sister's farmhouse, Schmiesing got a big grin on his face.
    "Looks like a new piece of farm equipment," he said.


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