By: Evan Frank of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

As Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler assumed command of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense during a change of command ceremony on Dec. 6 in Alabama, he was joined by people who made an impact on his life years ago when he lived in Hartland.

Karbler said he was touched to see familiar faces like Jim and Sharon Cull, Dave Morris, Curt and Heather Gundrum, Rick and Barb Delsman and Tom and Sue Sorenson.

"In Hartland, we don't have a lot of military touch points," Karbler said. "We don't have a base nearby or anything like that. For many of them, it was their first opportunity to see any kind of Army ceremony. (For) them to be a part of that, for me, it was huge. So many of them had so much to do with help bringing me up."

Karbler attended Bark River Elementary School and graduated from Arrowhead High School in 1983. He went on to graduate in 1987 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Defense Artillery branch.

Looking back at his time at Arrowhead, Karbler remembered the impact of people such as baseball coach Tim O'Driscoll, basketball coach Greg Smith and choir teacher Dennis Brooks.

"Part of what all those three gentlemen taught was the value of hard work and practice," Karbler said. "But you still had to execute that. Whether you're up on stage singing or whether you're on the field playing baseball or basketball, you still had to execute, and you had to perform. Putting those two things together, those teachers really helped me learn how to do that."

Karbler also took part in musicals, swing choir, marching band, band, student senate and more when he was at Arrowhead. When he applied to West Point, Karbler received a nomination from Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner.

"There was no application fee, so that was pretty cool," Karbler said. "I never had a job in high school because I was always playing sports, band, choir, all of those things. I knew I was going to get a good education and guaranteed a job when I graduated. Those were really the motivators up front."

At first, Karbler thought he would leave the Army after his five-year commitment, but his mind was changed after he traveled to Israel during Desert Storm.

"I got to see how the Patriot missile (defense) system worked," Karbler said. "It was phenomenal. I was like, 'Holy cow, this is great.' I loved what I was doing; it was combat. That had me hooked. I decided to stay in as long as the Army would keep me. My five-year plan now is 32-plus years."

Military service

In his current position with Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Karbler oversees a command that provides the Army and joint services with space, missile defense, and high-altitude capabilities and forces. It is a global command with forces in 23 locations across 11 time zones, with even one soldier/astronaut currently aboard the International Space Station.

Karbler most recently served as the chief of staff, U.S. Strategic Command at the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. He was the principal adviser to the USSTRATCOM commander and deputy commander, and directed the activities of the command staff by developing and implementing policies and procedures in support of the command’s missions. He chaired numerous boards, oversaw the command's corporate process and served as the director of the commander’s staff.

Karbler also served as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command. Before that, he served as the director, Joint and Integration, Army G-8 at the Pentagon.

His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Israeli Air Force Combat Operations Badge.

"The Army has done wonders for taking care of me and my family," Karbler said. "I love serving the Army. I love working with soldiers and the missions that we do. I think Hartland did a big part of putting in a work ethic, putting in humility as part of my foundation that has helped me come as far as I've come from the Army."