Fruechting turns life around
Josh Fruechting is undoubtedly on the right track. It may have been difficult to convince Fruechting in 2008, when he was living out of his truck, that his life would turn out this way.
The 26 year old quickly gained responsibilities in the U.S. Army, even though he is a specialist. He is part of the 74 Delta CBRN medical unit in Afghanistan. His job with the unit is to take preventative measures against biochemical attacks on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. The army tapped his biochemistry experience. While in the Army, Fruechting is completing a double major in biochemistry and criminology from Colorado State University online.
When stationed in the U.S., Fruechting conducts tear gas tests with recruits to condition enlisted men in attack situations. Fortunately, there have not been any chemical weapons used in Afghanistan.
With time on his hands, Fruechting was also assigned as the head of a logistical unit securing supplies, including vehicles. The vehicles come from local Afghani dealers.
“We come from a culture of urgency,” Fruechting explained. “They’re much more laid back. You try to be patient with them. The best practice I’ve had is treating them politely and cordially.”
Although Fruechting is excelling, life at Kandahar is not easy. It is a common practice that insurgents will launch rockets at the base on both American and Afghani holidays. Under attack or not, Fruechting deals with everything as it comes; he has worked too hard to get to this point and he will not let events out of his control deter him.
In 2008, Fruechting was homeless for five months, living out of his truck in Colorado. His mother Nancy Fruechting said the only thing that kept him sane was the company of his black Labrador retriever, Orion.
He was going to school and working full-time, but he had been laid off at a local bank. He scrounged for work before landing a lucrative opportunity with a construction contractor.
Fruechting had always planned to go into the Army, but he wanted to do it as an officer. He participated in the ROTC program at the University of Colorado-Denver.
When the construction contractor went out of business in 2009, Fruechting was faced with a life-altering decision — stay in college and change his life plans or enlist and delay his development in the Army. His time was running out; the Army would not accept him past age 26. He would not give up his Army dream.
“I don’t have it in me to quit,” Fruechting said. “No matter what’s thrown at you, you can let events control you or you can take those events, accept them, and let them make you a stronger person.”
Fruechting was a rebellious teenager. He hated living on a farm outside of Marion. He took out his frustrations by generally doing the exact opposite of what his parents, Mike and Nancy Fruechting, asked.
Although his grades slipped during this tumultuous time, intelligent problem solving was never his problem.
Mike Fruechting set an Internet curfew of midnight for his children. Being the technology coordinator at USD 408, he locked the family computer and could monitor Internet access on his laptop. While he was asleep, he heard the tell tale pinging sound notifying him that his son had gotten online.
Undeterred Mike Fruechting set up other obstacles for his son to overcome, which he invariably did. Finally, Mike had to unplug the connection. Josh Fruechting used a friend’s cordless phone to connect to the Internet one more time.
Mike Fruechting was more amazed than mad.
“I don’t know how he keeps doing this,” he said.
Josh Fruechting can be a chameleon among different groups of people.
At MHS, he was an athlete, participated in forensics, had the farm background, and always held an interest in science.
“I’m some combination of country, athlete, and nerd,” Fruechting said.
After hitting the books in Denver, one of Fruechting’s favorite activities was to brand cattle with his ranching friends. He would often find shocked faces from either group when he would explain where he had just been.
“You’re out there with some guy covered in manure and blood and he talks about physics class,” Fruechting said.
Fruechting’s eclectic mixture of interests has shaped who he has become and allows him to relate to many different groups, including Afghans with whom he does not share the same culture.
“If we do nothing else other than help them not have to live in fear, that’s a major accomplishment,” Fruechting said. “(The Taliban) recruit through fear. There are basic human rights people deserve.”
More than anything, Fruechting is determined to use his life experiences to motivate him to capitalize on his potential. His goal is to have a lifelong career in the military.
“The way I live my life, I want to look back and say, ‘this is what I gave back, this is the difference I made, this is the service I gave,’” Fruechting said. “Looking at life from a future stand point helps you to not have regrets. The last thing anybody wants is to be sitting there at 80, 90 years old and wonder, ‘what did I do.’”
Aulne Methodist Church will host a family meal for Fruechting on Saturday.