U.S. Army National Guard
Green Bay Packers vs. Los Angeles Rams
By Greg Bates
Special for Operation Fan Mail
As Daniel Litscher walked out to midfield at Lambeau Field, he felt grateful.
The Army National Guard member was getting an opportunity of a lifetime—rubbing shoulders with Green Bay Packers players prior to their game against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football.
“Very surreal,” Litscher said. “Absolute adrenaline rush, because they said there were over 77,000 people there and everybody’s hootin’ and hollerin’ and all amped up for the game, and you just get to stand there and take it all in. It’s really neat.
“You wonder what you’ve done in your life to deserve such a thing. Everybody I work with, they all kind of do the same thing—that’s the path we chose and, for me, that’s what I love to do. So to get that kind of stuff for a job that I absolutely love to do and would choose to do it over and over, it’s kind of mind-blowing. It is certainly appreciated.”
Litscher, a resident of Merrimac, Wis., was honored as the winner of the Operation Fan Mail program and received four tickets to the Dec. 19 game. The award is presented by WPS Health Solutions and the Green Bay Packers.
A lifelong Packers fan, Litscher attended the game with his wife, Ashley, his mom, Sue Stoddard, and her husband, Brad.
Stoddard nominated her son for the award.
“He works so hard, and he’s just such a good kid, and he gives it all,” she said. “He gives it all to his country, his family. Everything he does he does 100%. I just felt like he was worthy.”
Litscher said he didn’t feel worthy of the honor, but he soaked up the experience.
Grins all day
Litscher and his entourage enjoyed a tailgate prior to heading into the stadium. About one hour before kickoff on the frigid night, the four guests of the Packers walked onto the field via the historical players’ tunnel. As Litscher was introduced to the crowd, he waved and his image appeared on the stadium’s large Jumbotron.
The group walked off the field toward the end zone and hung out near the tunnel during the anthem and when the Packers players ran out. Near the field, Litscher ran into a former Packers player, who took off his Super Bowl ring and slid it onto Litscher’s finger.
“It was a very special night for him,” Stoddard said. “I’ve really never seen him happier. Dan gets a really big smile when he’s happy, and he was really smiling pretty big.”
Litscher said it was grins all day. The best part of it all?
“I honestly think my favorite part of the day was just pulling in and walking past Lambeau Field with my family,” Litscher said. “They were all super-excited to be there. My mom was exceptionally giddy and really happy to be there. Just to have everybody enjoy it like that and have a smile on their face for me doing whatever they say I do. I certainly appreciate being able to share that with the people that helped me out the most and that probably matter the most to me.
“Second-favorite part is probably the fact that they won—that’s awesome.”
National Guard comes calling
When Litscher was a kid, he used to hang out with his grandpa, who had been in the Air Force.
The two would spend hours together in the garage fixing things, and Litscher got the idea of wanting to go into the military.
“I always dressed up as an Army guy for Halloween,” Litscher said. “It just seemed like it was something that I always wanted to do.”
As a junior at Baraboo High School, Litscher was able to talk to some National Guard members who were at his school recruiting. At 17, Litscher signed on with the Guard. Two months later, terrorists struck on Sept. 11. That event didn’t sway Litscher’s desire to enter the Guard—it actually solidified his decision.
After graduating from Baraboo in 2002, Litscher was sent to Fort Benning for basic and infantry training.
He came back to Baraboo and put in his time with the Guard before getting deployment orders in 2004 to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom. After six months of training, Litscher was sent to Iraq with the 128th Infantry Regiment for one year.
“I guess I would kind of equate it to maybe being a police officer over here,” Litscher said. “We went out and did patrols every day. We’d drive around or walk around, try to meet with local people. We were always trying to get intel on people doing bad stuff or we would try to help out the other people, like farmers, that needed a well or kids that needed to go to school, stuff like that.”
After working with the Guard traveling around Wisconsin and recruiting, Litscher was deployed again to Iraq in 2009 with the 105th Calvary Regiment. He spent eight to nine months working security detail.
Becoming a pilot
As a youngster, Litscher had aspirations to become a pilot. His dream resurfaced when he was in his late 20s. Upon returning from Iraq, Litscher was in touch with a medevac unit in West Bend, Wis.
“They needed pilots, and I absolutely loved what they did with their mission with medivac in supporting basically the ground soldiers,” Litscher said. “It worked out, and they picked me. I went to flight school; that was in 2011.”
Litscher and his wife moved for a year and a half to Fort Rucker in Alabama for flight school.
In 2017, the medevac unit was deployed to Afghanistan for about nine months.
Upon returning this time around, Litscher had another career opportunity—to become a commercial pilot. He worked for Trans States for two years before it went out of business when COVID-19 struck.
Litscher got into COVID testing, and then transitioned from a helicopter unit to a fixed-wing airplane unit. He received a full-time job and still flies for the Wisconsin Army National Guard through the Active Guard Reserve.
Loving his job
Litscher has taken an interesting path the last 20 years with the National Guard.
“I really do like it a lot,” said Litscher, who is a chief warrant officer. “I liked what I did then and it led me to where I am now. And I absolutely love what I do now. If I could go back 20 years and say, ‘Hey, what do you want to do now?’ I would think that it would be pretty close to what I wanted to do. I consider myself very lucky, very fortunate to have gotten to do those things and to be where I am now.”
Litscher’s mom is really proud of her son’s military service over the years. Stoddard said Litscher is always helping people.
“Whether he’s a Blackhawk pilot going into a war zone picking up injured soldiers and bringing them out or whether he’s providing transport to a general that needs to get to a base for whatever reason he needs to be there,” Stoddard said. “He’s just always helping other people, and I really love that just about him as a person.”
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