By Al Stilley
Joe Van Dyke had been out of high school for four years before joining the Indiana National Guard. He had worked at several jobs and felt that it was time to serve his country.
He served as a U.S. Army Specialist at bases in Fort Jackson, S.C., and Fort Sill, Okla., and overseas in Wiesbaden, Germany and Tuzla, Bosnia. Van Dyke served with the 1st Infantry, 138th Artillery unit in eastern Europe.
National Guard units were part of thousands of U.S. troops that were called up to serve with NATO in Bosnia to help keep a fragile peace among Bosnia’s Muslim, Croat and Serb communities. Troops were spread throughout isolated areas along lines of confrontation between the Muslim-Croat federation and Bosnian Serbs.
Van Dyke was there in 1996 and 1997.
“We were literally all over the entire country,” Van Dyke recalled. “Most of the locals wanted peace. They mostly wanted to disarm militant groups from Serbia and other groups throughout the country.”
Van Dyke recalled that his main task of the unit was to place radar units throughout the country in many obscure areas. He also was part of various convoys while maintaining a peacekeeping presence in the country.
“The goal was to disarm infantry and militant groups from Serbia,” Van Dyke recalled of the U.S. military involvement, one of 32 nations that had troops in Bosnia and bases in surrounding countries as logistics hubs.
The Dayton Accords ended the three and one-half year civil war with peacekeepers that manned cease-fire lines between the warring factions. They also oversaw the removal of heavy weapons from the front lines and the demarcation of the boundary between Bosnia’s two constituent entities — the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Serb Republic.
Van Dyke is a graduate of Washington High School on the westside, and has lived in Greenwood for 26 years.
He and his wife Christy have two sons, Justin and Chase who have served in the U.S. Air Force for six years. They have a grandson, JJ. They have a family dog named “Bo.”
Van Dyke has been active in a variety of community activities, particularly as a coach in Greenwood Bantam football and Little League baseball.
He and Christy opened and operated Daylight Donuts in Greenwood for 10 years.
“We enjoyed owning the business and meeting many fine customers,” Van Dyke said. “We had to close the business due to the covid pandemic.”
He works as a hydraulic lift inspector for KAM Equipment that is owned by fellow Southsider Doug Montgomery.
“We enjoy our friends and living in Greenwood,” Van Dyke said. “It has a small town feel but it’s not a small town. We love its family atmosphere, the small businesses, the parades, the festivals, and the outdoor concerts.”
And they live in a community that appreciates his service to his nation and of all military veterans who live on the Southside.