How deployed soldiers’ communication evolved

Published: Nov. 8, 2023 at 7:06 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - For soldiers abroad, letters from home can deliver messages of hope during a deployment.

Nowadays, communication is a breeze. But for veterans of the past, it was difficult to find optimism when letters took months to come.

“This is me and my dad deployed together. My nephew got baptized and I was his godmother, so I did it on Facetime,” said Stephanie Thielges, Readiness NCO.

Precious moments like these can now be shared over the phone, but Stephanie Thielges knows it always wasn’t this easy to stay connected. She was deployed twice with the North Dakota National Guard.

“And so to be able to contact my kids and tell them that I was safe and the things that I was doing and just be able to keep up with their activities back home, just, it meant so much more to me that I was able to stay in their lives and not just like, almost be forgotten,” said Thielges.

When Thielges takes a walk down memory lane, she remembers during her second deployment in 2017, how comforting it was knowing her family could contact her.

“I was just happy that I could be with them and feel them and touch them and love them again,” said Thielges.

“It makes it a lot easier. When you go overseas, you know that your mission is what your mission is when you’re overseas, and that is the number one priority in your life at that time,” said Thielges.

Communication has come a long way; letters from the past show just how much times have changed.

“It would be writing home, you know, and obviously technology then, what it was, you didn’t have the access to the internet... So they inform on an individual scale, participation in a larger historical event. These are resources that are going to be used by historians to better understand a historical event,” said Daniel Sauerwein, a reference specialist at the State Archives and State Historical Society.

He says the letters are also there for the descendants to understand their family ties and they contribute to the history of the nation at a microscopic level.

The State Historical Society has letters that document history from the Civil War to World Wars for veterans in North Dakota.