Veterans Day: Black River Falls farm owner reflects on 20 years in Wisconsin National Guard

Veterans Day has a special place in Black River Falls native Dallas Gearing's heart
Dallas Gearing Wisconsin National Guard

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WKBT) – These people rarely ask for recognition for what they’ve done for the country. However, on Veterans Day, as people should every day, communities say thank you to the men and women who defend America’s freedom. The farmland just outside Black River Falls is cared for by people who are born to work.

“Farming’s a tough job,” said Dallas Gearing, owner of Gearing Oakdale Farm. “I mean there’s more and more family farms shutting down all the time.”

Poor milk prices and other market factors forced 700 Wisconsin farms to close last year, that’s two every day (U.S. Department of Agriculture). The one thing that is not in short supply for Gearing is hope.

“Hopefully it will rebound soon,” Gearing said.

Gearing said growing thick skin along with the corn is the only way to wake up and stick with the family business.

“Yeah. I grew up on this very farm,” he said.

Family pride and passion are also a bonus. Gearing said every farm is a community with characters.

“You got cows that are lazy, you got cows that are very energetic and want to get out, you got ones that are mean, you got some that are just gentle as can be,” Gearing said. “I love being outside and spending my days working with animals, and working the land and stuff. I really enjoy it.”

Once every few weeks Gearing prepares to care for this land in another way.

“The rest of the month I’m working my regular civilian job and then the one weekend a month I report, shave my face, get a hair cut, and go to drill,” Gearing said.

Gearing is a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard, serving 20 years, a choice he made with little knowledge of what he would see.

“When I signed up it was the year 2000 and there was nothing going on,” he said. “Just like a light switch overnight everything changed.”

Following Sept. 11, 2001, Dallas served in Iraq and Iran. His 18 months in Iraq tilted the scale of his idea of problems.

“You can watch stuff on TV and kind of get an idea of what goes on over there, but until you’re there you really don’t realize how bad off some of these countries are,” Gearing said. “They were going from a dictator at that time to getting a government set in place for them.”

Gearing’s experience he said is something more people should see in their lifetime.

“I’d always tell people I think everybody should go over to a third world country maybe, and see how people live and then they would be a little more appreciative of what they have back home,” Gearing said.

When Veterans Day comes around, his mind is on what war took from his fellow soldiers.

“Whether it be invisible wounds or physical wounds that you can see,” he said. “Those guys there are the heroes in my eyes.”

He believes his service was his responsibility.

“You’re looking out for your buddy on your left and your right,” Gearing said. “You can’t just be looking out for yourself.”

Those 20 years in uniform for Dallas will soon end.

“It’s coming to an end here real quick, but I don’t regret any of it,” Gearing said.

The work of a man who cares for his homeland never stops.

“We still gotta come to work,” Gearing said.

Neither do the memories created out of a selfless commitment to his neighbors so they can live side by side with peace and community.

“I do miss it,” he said. “I don’t think I’m ever not gonna miss it.”

Gearing’s grandfather and great grandfather also served in World War II, so Veteran’s Day is an important day for his family.