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Culture - Nov 3, 2022

Military Veteran Brings Sense of Ownership to Waupaca Foundry

Ally Melby | Waupaca Foundry

Veteran Spotlight: Pattern Vault Attendant, Robert Larsen

Robert Larsen during his time with the National Guard..

If you were to ask Robert Larsen, a pattern vault attendant at Waupaca Foundry’s Plant 1 gray iron location, to recite his time in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, he would be able to provide the month, day and year of his enlistment, basic training and any extensive operations without even stopping to think — a testament to his ability to think three or four steps ahead during his job today at Waupaca Foundry.

Larsen enlisted on September 17, 1987, with the Waupaca’s National Guard unit at the age of 19.

The Waupaca National Guard Unit has a deep-rooted history for both Larsen and the Waupaca County community. Larsen’s grandfather had previously served in the same unit prior to World War II and was the inspiration for Larsen to enlist. The Waupaca unit itself is over 100 years old and has origins that trace back to the Spanish American War in 1898, as well as service during World War I, World War II and response to natural disasters in the area.

Larsen began basic training at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas on November 4, 1987, for 10 weeks. After, he moved to Fort Still in Oklahoma on January 21, 1988, for an additional 10 weeks to train with the 434th Field Artillery Brigade to become a forward observer.

While serving with the National Guard, Larsen would spend one weekend per month training with the Waupaca National Guard Unit and then travel to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin for a two-week training period every summer.

The Army National Guard is the oldest military organization and the primary combat reserve of the U.S. Army. Considered America's First Military Responders, the Army National Guard has both state and federal responsibilities. Guard members serve a dual role to their community and its country and can be called to respond to domestic emergencies, overseas combat missions, natural disasters, and civil disturbances.

After three years of serving in the National Guard, Larsen remained in the inactive National Guard for an additional five years. During the latter, Larsen began his journey at Waupaca Foundry.

When asked about the impact the Army National Guard has had on him, over three decades later, Larsen says, “I can do anything that I put my mind to. I also have the need to just want to get things done right, perfectly, as best as possible.”

Coworker James Klismet, a pattern vault attendant at Waupaca Foundry says of Larsen, “Bob has a particular type of leadership style which is broken down in three characteristics: 1. Bob leads by example. He makes sure that procedures are followed. 2. Bob treats everyone with respect, regardless of what may be happening in his personal life. 3. Bob goes out of his way to make sure the oncoming shift is brought up to speed by delivering an accurate shift turnover. Bob cares for Waupaca Foundry like it’s his own. He takes complete ownership in his job.”

Larsen will celebrate 30 years at Waupaca Foundry on October 4, 2023.

Waupaca Foundry is proud to employ many men and women who are veterans. Ten percent of our employees have served in uniform, and we thank them for their service. 
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