After growing up on a farm in northeast Iowa, R.L. Tecklenburg often dreamed about traveling the world. He served in the Vietnam War and now, as a Springfield resident, has worked with veterans as both a volunteer and as a professional. A history buff, Tecklenburg recently published "The Ghosts of War," a spy novel set in Vietnam. He is this week's People Profile.
Number of years in the community: I have lived in the Springfield community since 1991 with my wife, Rebecca.
Education: My educational background has reflected my interests as well as my professional needs. I completed a M.A. in American history and I have worked in that area in varying capacities over the years, including community historical preservation, work with the National Park Service, and as a volunteer archivist with the National Archives and Records Administration. Additionally, I received a masters in public administration and completed course work toward a Ph.D. in education.
Primary occupation: I worked with the federal government as an administrator until 2001 when I retired.
Achievements: I have achieved many goals over the years including serving in the Vietnam War as an infantryman, graduating from college and graduate schools, my professional work with the federal government, and, most recently, publishing my first novel, “Ghosts of War.”
Activities/interests/hobbies? Most activities, interests and hobbies I engage in are solitary in nature. I enjoy reading and writing and now spend much time in their pursuit. I have a sail boat and can be seen plying the waters of the Chesapeake Bay during the summer months. I devote time on a regular basis to volunteer work both in the community with veterans, different political activities, and, before writing consumed so much time, I worked as a volunteer at the National Archives.
Favorite local restaurant or place in the community? I would have to say, based on the amount of time I spend there, that the different coffee shops — Starbucks, Caribou, Coffee Connection, Janet’s Java, etc.— located in the area are my favorite haunts and they keep me out of the pubs and taverns.
What are your community concerns? I think a significant concern of mine, and one which I am devoting my time and attention, is taking care of the younger war veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. A project the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 917 is organizing will assist those veterans by helping them navigate the “VA system,” get benefits counseling, referrals for employment and medical assistance, and offer emotional support and camaraderie from those who have “been there.” We are calling our project “Big Brothers-in-Arms.”
What brought you here? I came to Northern Virginia because of my work with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
What community "hidden treasure" do you think more people should know about? I think two of the greatest treasures we have here in the area are the public libraries located in each community and George Mason University which offers a wide range of educational, cultural and sporting activities to the community as well as its students.
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you "grew up?" I grew up on a farm in northeast Iowa. Although I had many wonderful experiences, and in many ways it was an idyllic childhood, I often dreamed of escaping to faraway places. I recall fondly that I wanted to join the Merchant Marine, catch a banana boat and head off for the South Pacific and other exotic locales. That didn’t work out and, strangely enough, I ended up as a marine in another exotic location: South Vietnam. Combat didn’t destroy the dreamer in me but it certainly sobered me on “growing up.”
Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I will have published my fourth book.