Born in 1940 on a farm in Maries County, Arnold Sandbothe came of age in a family of seven brothers and three sisters, watching as two of his older brothers left for service in World War II while another was wounded during the Korean War. As the years passed and he went on to graduate from Vienna High School in 1958, it seemed like only a matter of time before he and his other brothers would fulfill the family legacy of serving in military.
“After high school, I spent some time working construction jobs in St. Louis,” said Sandbothe. “While I was up there, I decided that I would also serve and joined a local engineering unit of the Army Reserve,” he added.
Completing his boot camp at Ft. Leonard Wood, the young soldier anticipated receiving orders to remain at the fort to complete advanced training in a military engineering specialty; instead, he was handed orders for finance school at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, Indiana.
“I was shocked that I wasn’t staying for engineering school, but when one of the officer’s asked me who I knew to get in that school, I realized it would be alright,” he grinned.
He returned to St. Louis for a few months after completing his finance training but soon decided to return closer to home, moving to Jefferson City when he was hired full-time at the former McGraw-Edison Company. In April 1960, he transferred to the Missouri National Guard and was assigned to Company B, 735th Ordnance Battalion, which in late 1962 transitioned to the 1035th Ordnance Company.
“My older brother Ray, who had been wounded in Korea, was working full-time in the state headquarters for the Missouri Guard and told me about a full-time job as a federal technician in the warehouse. I applied and was hired, and worked there for about a year when I was offered a promotion to work in the stock control section for the United States Property and Fiscal Office for the Guard.”
Continuing his full-time work for the National Guard while taking college accounting courses in the evenings and drilling with the 1035th on weekends, he was encouraged to consider Officer Candidate School (OCS). He was accepted for OCS and completed his training in June of 1966. Receiving his commission as a second lieutenant, he had to make a critical career decision.
“There was not a compatible officer slot for my full-time federal technician job at that time … and if I waited for one to come available, I might be passed over for appointment,” he said. “So, I became a second lieutenant with the 1035th as my drilling unit, and was eventually hired full-time with the Missouri Credit Union League.”
His full-time employment with the credit union required him to relocate to Kansas City and, for a number of years, he commuted to Jefferson City to drill with his unit on the weekends. When a command and control headquarters element was organized in Kansas City, he received a transfer to a slot as a captain in the early 1970s. While living in Kansas City, he met and married Linda Nolker Huyett in 1977. Throughout the next few years, his military career continued to progress while he fulfilled several leadership roles until receiving appointment as commander of the 205th Military Police Battalion in the summer of 1986.
“I had completed my branch training as an ordnance officer but the new position required that I take my basic and advanced course as a military policeman,” said Sandbothe. “I became a major and eventually a lieutenant colonel before leaving the MP Corps of the Missouri National Guard in 1989.”
Working full-time with the credit union and performing his part-time military duties as a commander with the military police, Sandbothe realized he would have to be at least halfway finished with Command and General Staff College (CGSC) if he wished to qualify for promotion to colonel.
“During my battalion command time with the MP Corps, I spent many of the few free weekends I had taking CGSC courses and, by the time I left my command there, I had finished a college degree in addition to CGSC.”
Although qualified and selected for promotion to colonel, the state did not have any available officer slots at that grade. Sandbothe then made a decision that led him back to where his military career began—the Army Reserve.
“I transferred to the Army Reserve and was able to receive promotion to colonel,” he said. “I stayed with them until retiring from the military in 1994 with credit for 30 years of service. Also,” he added, “I worked for the Missouri Credit Union Association for 32 years before retiring as senior vice-president in 1998.”
The veteran has come to recognize the distinct moments that appear to define the differences between the years he spent as an enlisted soldier and those as a commissioned officer, each of which seems to provide him with specific types of memories.
“As an enlisted soldier in my early-to-mid-20s, I was a typical enlisted soldier who had quite a bit of fun but did what I had to do,” he said. “But I really didn’t grow up until I went to OCS and they made a gentleman out of me—if that was possible!” he laughed. “I am proud of my fellow Guard members who I met and served with over the years. Working together made each of us better citizens.
However, the most important aspect of his military career has not been the climb through the various ranks, but fulfilling a legacy that began with his father and has been carried forth by he and his brothers.
“My father was in WWI and each of my six brothers served in the military in some capacity,” he said. With a chuckle, he added, “When you think about that, I had no choice because what an embarrassment it would be if I hadn’t served as well.”
Jeremy P. Ämick writes on behalf of the Silver Star Families of America.
Jeremy P. Amick is a military historian and author dedicated to preserving our nation's military legacies.