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Nisswa native keeps family military tradition

Submitted Photo Cadel Roeder and his father, Chris, at Roeder's boot camp graduation in 2015.

For Petty Officer 2nd Class Cadel Roeder, submarine sonar technician aboard the USS Hawaii, life has changed since leaving his home in Nisswa to join the Navy.

A 2014 graduate of Pequot Lakes High School, Roeder joined the military as an alternative to the traditional college route.

"I chose the Navy because I was intrigued by the idea of sailing and visiting foreign countries," said Roeder via email. "Also, I wanted to learn technical skills that I didn't think I could in any other branch."

Roeder's primary role as a sonar technician is to search for, detect, track and classify ships within range of the USS Hawaii's sensors. He is also trained as a weaponeer, meaning he handles and loads torpedoes.

"I had to learn the unique language of the U.S. Navy," he said.

The transition from small-town living in Minnesota to living on a submarine for extended periods of time was significant. Roeder said the most difficult part was learning to adapt to the unpredictability of his schedule. He said he just had to learn to roll with the punches.

"The absolute best part, though, would be the friends I've met along the way," he said. "I've met some amazing people in the last four years and I'm grateful for that."

Roeder's father, Chris Roeder, said his son's accomplishments are a source of great pride for him, having served in the National Guard for 10 years himself as an artillery officer.

"You look at where he is now, 22 years old and he has so many options," said Chris.

After serving, Roeder will be able to choose whether he wants to continue in the military, use his technician skills in a civilian setting or develop an entirely new civilian career.

"I appreciate that he's learned to be a part of something bigger than himself, but at the same time he's learned to become his own person and gain confidence," said Chris.

Chris said he encouraged his son to join the military, as he hopes all of his children will do.

"I jokingly say that the college fund I had for him was a tank of gas to get to the recruiter's office and a pen to sign on," he said.

Roeder and his family talk every few weeks when he is on land, but during his extended time out at sea, that can change to as seldom as once or twice a year.

"It's strange to have this kid in your life, then a little bit less, then almost not at all," said Chris.

Roeder misses home as well. Besides missing his family, the one thing he said he misses most is Rafferty's Pizza.

"That and winter," said Roeder. "I haven't seen snow in almost two years, and I have to say, I do miss it."

Roeder and his father are not the only members in the family to serve in the military. Roeder's grandfather flew 47 missions as a bomber pilot in World War II and his brother served in the infantry during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"I feel honored to carry on the military tradition," said Roeder. "I also feel honored in being the first of my family to join the Navy. I have a lot of pride in what I've accomplished in the past four years."