Luke Vilsmeyer poses with the flag he brought back from his first foreign war in Iraq. 	Photo provided by Marc Vilsmeyer

Luke Vilsmeyer poses with the flag he brought back from his first foreign war in Iraq. Photo provided by Marc Vilsmeyer

Two decades of service

Snoqualmie valley resident Luke Vilsmeyer retired from the Army and Green Berets after 21 years.

After 21 years in the U.S. Army, lifelong Snoqualmie valley resident Luke Vilsmeyer is gearing up for his next big adventure.

The 40-year-old will be flying across the country, moving to Indiana this week with his wife and children. Luke Vilsmeyer retired from a long career in the Army last year, first as an artilleryman and later as a Green Beret. He has been awarded medals and has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and southeast Asian countries.

But he got his start right here in the valley. His father, Marc Vilsmeyer, said his son has always been a natural athlete. He grew up playing sports, and played his first game when he was 9. But despite being a star player, he was always a team player first.

“He was the biggest kid, the best athlete on the team, but he always made sure that others were able to score and be able to get the ball,” Marc Vilsmeyer said of his son.

Luke Vilsmeyer attended Fall City Elementary, followed by Chief Kanim Middle School and finally Mt. Si High School. After graduating in 1998, he took a year off and worked as an apprentice carpenter in the area.

But he decided to enlist in 1999. He went through basic training in Oklahoma as an artilleryman before being shipped out to Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He was always interested in joining the military, and held it in high regard, he said.

“As cheesy as it sounds, from a young age, I realized how good we had it” in the U.S., Luke Vilsmeyer said.

He wound up fighting forest fires in Montana around 2002. He re-enlisted and shipped out to Italy as part of the 173 Airborne Brigade before being sent to Iraq in 2003.

After that tour, he was sent to Afghanistan in 2005 and again in 2010. In 2006, he went into the Special Forces assessment and graduated as a Green Beret and Special Forces Communications Sergeant in 2008.

He was also assigned to the Philippines in 2011 before being sent back to Afghanistan in 2013. There were also numerous small operations throughout Southeast Asia, he said. The last assignment he went on was in 2019.

During that time he earned two Bronze Stars and survived some close calls. One instance that his father recalled happened while Luke Vilsmeyer was on patrol: He heard an explosion behind him, and when he went to check it out, discovered someone pursuing him along the same path had stepped on an explosive.

But he said the next position up was a desk job, one that would keep him out of the field. So he decided to retire. He also got married in 2019 and had twins.

“With all of that, it’s just like time to be home and be available for my family,” he said.

Marc Vilsmeyer said he is proud of his son, but he’s also grateful that he came home safe. With his role in special operations, there were times they wouldn’t know what was happening to their son.

“We kept ourselves busy with things like care packages and letters and that kind of stuff to keep us going, but he had so much confidence in his training that we felt that would protect him,” Marc Vilsmeyer said. “And besides, we believe that he has a guardian angel who’s very strong. It was very difficult for us sometimes to know that he was out there and not hear from him. And sometimes we didn’t get to hear from him for quite a while and your mind races and you think of all these things that could be happening.”

Luke Vilsmeyer has a tattoo of that guardian angel, his father said. It has red hair, just like his mother.

“I found myself in a lot of scary places,” said Luke Vilsmeyer. “But I found myself in a lot of incredible places all over the world.”

He said one of the biggest takeaways is an appreciation for his country. He also talked about veterans. One of the biggest things he said that can help veterans returning is connecting with other veterans — people who can relate to what they’ve been through.

His next steps include moving to Indiana, where he will work with the Midwest Threat Assessment Center and be close to his wife’s family. He’s looking forward to the move, even though he loves being near his family in the Snoqualmie valley.

When looking back at his 21-year career, he never thought he would be in the military for so long when he enlisted. He originally said he was planning to serve for a few years, go to college, get a job and start a family. But he ended up loving what he did, and said staying in was the best choice he could have made.

“It’s been a hell of a ride. It’s one of those things you never expect to get into,” he said.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

For Gary Schwartz, a Valley-based author, the pandemic hasn’t changed his writing style or schedule, but he’s finding it harder to muse ideas. He enjoys writing young adult fiction, and has published one book, "The King of Average." File photo
Penning through the pandemic

Local authors are finding ways to adapt to an unpredictable world.

North Bend could have its own marijuana store soon.
North Bend approved pot shop development agreement

The council voted to approve the agreement on Dec. 1.

Ryan Hartwell (Fred) hugs Tim Platt (Scrooge) in the final scene of VCS’s production of “A Christmas Carol” in 2019. File photo
‘A Christmas Carol’ returns Dec. 5

Valley Center Stage will be performing its rendition of “A Christmas Carol”… Continue reading

A King County Sheriff’s Office photo of the crawlspace in which Urbano Velazquez was hiding when a K-9 unit was used. Sound Publishing file photo
King County settles $2 million dog bite lawsuit

The county agreed to pay $100,000 after being sued after a 2016 K-9 unit arrest.

Contributed by the Society for Conservation Biology 
A map showing the locations where plants have gone extinct in the U.S. and Canada since European settlers arrived.
Study: 65 plant species have gone extinct in U.S., Canada

More than 65 species of plants have gone extinct in the U.S.… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Regency North Bend outbreak leaves four dead

A large outbreak of COVID-19 at Regency North Bend, a senior living… Continue reading

North Bend City Hall. Courtesy of northbendwa.gov
North Bend passes on property tax increase

The North Bend City Council narrowly voted not to increase the amount… Continue reading

David Olson. Contributed photo
The Valley loses one of its biggest hearts

David Olson died in early November, but his legacy of dedicated community service lives on.

Sage Viniconis is a career performing artist in King County who’s been out of work and seeking creative outlets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy photo/Sage Viniconis
Puget Sound artists adapt creativity, and business sense, to pandemic

Artists Sunday is an online directory that connects artists across the county, state and nation.

Most Read