September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

A princess among soldiers

Rosenhammer joins Army
Mary Rosenhammer wears three different hats — she helps on her parents’ dairy farm near Sleepy Eye, Minn., is a Brown County dairy princess and drives a truck for the National Guard, all while being a college student at SDSU and working on a hog farm.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY RUTH KLOSSNER
Mary Rosenhammer wears three different hats — she helps on her parents’ dairy farm near Sleepy Eye, Minn., is a Brown County dairy princess and drives a truck for the National Guard, all while being a college student at SDSU and working on a hog farm.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY RUTH KLOSSNER

By by Ruth Klossner- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

SLEEPY EYE, Minn. - At the age of 19, Mary Grace Rosenhammer is in her final year in 4-H, her first year in college and is a county dairy princess. But, perhaps more significantly, she's a truck driver in the National Guard.
It's something that's very important in her life.
"I always thought about it, but I didn't think I'd have the guts to do it. Joining wasn't impulsive. I've always looked up to veterans and soldiers-I admired them," she said.
"I did not get any bonuses for enlisting-money was not the push," Rosenhammer said.
While joining the Army was something Rosenhammer wanted to do, her parents, John and Patty, weren't so sure about it.
"I turned 17 in November but it took me until January to convince them to sign for me," Rosenhammer said. "They didn't like the unpredictably of it, of not knowing where I'd be going."
She said, "My classmates at Sleepy Eye St. Mary's were all very supportive. My principal said I was the first kid from the school to go into the military in six years."
With the papers signed, Rosenhammer did her 10 weeks of basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C. during the summer after her junior year of high school.
"That was the youngest I could be when I did basic. I could have gone right to AIT, but I split it so I could do one part each summer," Rosenhammer said.
Not sure of what she wanted to do for her Army job, she talked to a cousin who was in it, and decided on motor transport operator. She took eight weeks of Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Leonardwood, Mo. this past summer, after graduating from Sleepy Eye St. Mary's High School.
Rosenhammer admitted that boot camp was awful and tough but that it's awesome once you do it.
The experience boosted Rosenhammer's confidence. Not only did she complete boot camp, but she did it in grand style, finishing first of 250 in her platoon and making the top six of 1,400 in her battalion.
"That boosted my self-confidence in what I'm made of and what I'm capable of doing," she said. "It was pretty awesome. It took a lot of hardwork-I had to earn it."
With AIT completed, Rosenhammer-an 88M Motor Transport Operator with the rank of Specialist-now drills once a month with Fox Company 134th BSB National Guard at St. Peter. Those drills are usually two to four days long, sometimes requiring Mary to miss classes at South Dakota State University (SDSU).
She'll also have two weeks of training every summer. Though camp is usually in June or July, it will be in May this year. Fortunately, it will be the week after she finishes her freshman year at SDSU.
While some may think it unusual for a woman to be a truck driver, Rosenhammer said that the drivers are about half women, depending on the platoon.
"It's risky work. I'm worried about it, definitely, and my parents are very worried. But, I've had so much training and we would get a lot more, if we would deploy," she said.
Having just started her third year in the Army, Rosenhammer has four years of active duty to go; after that, she'll be inactive for two years, for a total of eight years with the military.
Those years will run parallel to finishing her education at SDSU. There, she's studying ag science and animal science, and is active in the dairy club, horse club, and swine club.
"I really like dairy, but I'm working now at Schwartz Farm. It's something I wanted to explore and I enjoy working with pigs. I come home every weekend to help on our farm, too," Rosenhammer said.
Rosenhammer not only enjoys working on the farm, but also showing cattle in 4-H. In this-her last year in 4-H-she plans to show five or six head. She's also a second-year Brown County Dairy Princess and was a Dairy Ambassador for three years before that.
Cows aren't the only animals that Rosenhammer has shown. She has a special interest in horses-something that traces back to her childhood.
"I rode a stick horse around the house all the time. Then my dad drew a horse head and I painted it. I took lessons when I was 8 years old and begged and begged my parents for a horse," Rosenhammer said. "Then a horse appeared. A friend was getting rid of a pretty little gray horse that was perfect for a first horse. It took a lot of self-educating."
Now on her third and fourth horses-a Paint and a Quarter Horse-Rosenhammer enjoys riding down the road with her dad or sister, Becca. Before she joined the Army, Rosenhammer went to horse shows almost every weekend, entering game classes.
Rosenhammer also enjoys running; she was in cross country, basketball and track in high school. Along with her family, she has taken part in the Relay for Life, since her mother got breast cancer in February 2012.
"When I'm on my own, I want to be a First Responder-that's another goal of mine," she said. "And I want to be on a farm. I can't see myself doing an eight-to-five job. I can't see that changing any time soon. And I want to come back to help with the county dairy princess program."
Although she's a county dairy princess this year, Rosenhammer-regrettably-won't be able to take part in the state Princess Kay workshop due to military obligations. She's looking forward to possibly doing it down the road.
With her two-week training coming in May, Rosenhammer will have the summer to enjoy the things she loves.
"I'm really looking forward to being home. I love running down the gravel roads; fishing with my uncle, brother and sisters, cooking; exercising, riding my horses, doing chores-I love milking-and being with friends for a long period of time. I'm really looking forward to it," Rosenhammer said.
Rosenhammer is the middle of five siblings. Joey (25) has a custom farming business and helps with the dairy in the off-season. Laura (22) works at a large dairy near Rochester and brings ideas back to try on the home farm. Becca (17) is a junior in high school and is involved in nursing. Johnny (16) and a high school sophomore, has two interests, according to Rosenhammer-trucks and girls. Mom Patty is a LPN at the nursing home in Sleepy Eye, while dad John is a full time dairy farmer. Grandparents Dennis and Mildred Rosenhammer live on the same farm and are lessening their work hours with the dairy. Uncle Greg helps on the farm, too, with major responsibility for the crops.[[In-content Ad]]


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