Mark Fox and Bart Lindberg are soldiers from two different gen- erations and two different wars.
Fox served in Vietnam, and Lindberg
completed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Both feel most at home on the water.
Lindberg, from Brainerd, Minnesota,
ran hundreds of missions in dozens of
countries during his time as a watercraft operator in the Army. When he
came home in January 2015, he couldn’t
sleep. Last July, along with Fox and
Abby Kaeser, he put his canoe in the
Mississippi headwaters at Lake Itasca,
Minnesota, and started paddling for the
Gulf of Mexico. After 10-hour days on
the river, Lindberg says he slept just fine.
Fox, who recently retired from
Lockheed Martin and the Federal
Aviation Administration, spent years as
a fire-department volunteer working as
part of the water-rescue
team for Eagan, Minnesota.
He specialized in cold- and swift-water
rescue and recovery, and his team was at
the I- 35 bridge-collapse disaster in 2007.
Kaeser, who graduated last May from
Indiana University with degrees in political science and photography, has ambitions to be a combat photographer or war
correspondent; she was invited to join the
trip as the archivist and blogger.
The expedition was an outgrowth of
Warrior Hike, started by Iraq War veteran
Sean Gobin in 2012, which challenged
veterans suffering from post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) to cover 2,000
miles of the Appalachian Trail with the
aim of literally “walking off the war.” In
the case of the Mississippi River trip, it
was more a case of “paddling off the war”
for Lindberg, who says the trip helped
him refresh his mind and gave him an
appreciation for the smaller things in life.
“My self-esteem was low when I left the
Army,” he says. “This accomplishment
gave me new memories and a sense of
It’s also given him the time and head-
space both to make plans for a future
that includes returning to college for a
degree in robotics and renewable energy
and to think about giving back. “I’d like
to be in the field of making energy-
efficient houses and buildings,” he says.
“The Veterans of Foreign Wars posts and
American Legions that supported us on
this trip have been amazing. I’d like to
pay them back in the future by helping
make their buildings smart buildings.”
— ANN DERMODY
Paddling For PTSD
A surprising trio of two U.S. Army vets and a recent
college graduate just completed a 2,320-mile paddle of
the mighty Mississippi River
Mark Fox, a retired
army veteran (main
photo and below left),
was joined by Abby
Kaeser and Bart
Lindberg on a paddle
down the Mississippi.