Soldier to retire from Army Reserves on Flag Day

After 40 years of military service, New Ulm soldier Celeste Bischel will retire from the Army Reserve on Flag Day, June 14.

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Bill Harris and Celeste Bischel at home in New Ulm.

Sergeant First Class (E-7) Celeste Bischel maintained a family tradition, to say the least, serving 40 years in the Army Reserve. Her voice crackles with emotion when she realizes her military time ends soon.

A Winona High School student, she had a brother in the Army and Navy and her father was an Army veteran.

“I always felt I would join the Army Reserve. I really knew I would join when my mom said I could not because I was a girl,” Bischel said. “That’s all I needed to hear. I joined and met my drill sergeant on my 17th birthday.”

She joined the Delayed Entry Program, attending weekend military meetings while in high school.

Bischel did a variety of jobs in the Army Reserve. She served with Wabasha units from 1976 to 2000 as a motor pool dispatcher, clerk, storage and handling specialist. She served with the 1/338th Regiment, 2nd Btn., 85th Division at Fort McCoy, Wi., working as a lanemeister (creating detailed books or training manuals) from 2000 to 2002. The assignment included a two-year Iraqi Freedom deployment with the 244th Quartermaster Bn 23rd as an instructor/writer at Fort Lee, Va.

Bischel’s duties included operating this huge fork lift.

Most recently, she volunteered for 10 months of instructor duty at Camp Parks, Dublin, Ca., near Livermore, 28 miles southeast of Oakland. Thousands of National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers and Navy Reserve Seabees train for war at Camp Parks.

Bischel also served two and three-week gigs with the 544th at Kaiserslautern, Germany. Her favorite German things are food, beer and castles.

She served three weeks with the 417th in Italy, touring Rome, Pisa and Florence on weekends. Bischel said a highlight was flying over Bosnia in a refueling plane and watching another plane refuel from a rear observation window.

A Winona State University graduate, she majored in criminal justice and minored in psychology.

Bischel moved to New Ulm in February 2002 and worked as a Brown County Probation Juvenile Crew Leader and as a Family Services paraprofessional until retiring at 55.

Bischel is geared up and ready to go.

She married Bill Harris of New Ulm six years ago.

In retirement, Bischel said she plans to spend more time with her family, travel and work part time.

“We want to visit Normandy Beach where Bill’s father served (in World War II),” she said.

Bischel poses with some of her Army Reserve workmates.