Dennis Chalker's resume includes serving as a member of the Navy Seals, writing books, acting, Hollywood technical adviser and businessman. After this past summer, he added working on a farm in North Dakota to that impressive list.
After graduating high school in 1972, Chalker joined the U.S. Army serving in the 82nd Airborne. At the end of his enlistment, he went to college with the intention of becoming a game warden or smokejumper in civilian life, although he was soon back in the military.
"I love a challenge," he said. "I joined the Navy Seals to get a degree and then get out and become a smokejumper."
Becoming a Seal is a challenge.
"It is what you have inside you," Chalker said. "It is 98% mental and 2% physical but that part is just as important."
During his service with Seal Team One, he had an opportunity to interview for a new unit being formed for the war on terrorism called Seal Team Six. As an original member of the unit, he was designated as a plankowner. The term plankowner traces back to the days of wooden Navy ships and crew members assigned at the time the vessel was built were said to own a plank or board of the ship's decking.
After seeing action in Grenada, Haiti, El Salvador and Panama, Chalker was called to be part of another newly formed unit called Red Cell assigned to test the effectiveness of American defenses.
After a 27-year military career in some of the most elite units in the American armed forces, he retired and went back to college to get that four-year degree he started working on a quarter of a century earlier.
Along the way, he served as a technical adviser to the movie "The Rock" and became an onscreen extra in the film. He also wrote three works of fiction and three works of nonfiction with author Kevin Dockery.
He also invented a rifle sling, known as the Chalker sling, that allows a person to quickly transition from carrying a weapon to being in a firing position. Chalker has been involved in training and security work for law enforcement and military personnel.
"I've been working in force protection," he said referring to the type of training and consulting work he has been involved in recently. "That is currently shut down by COVID."
So in June, Chalker came out to Edgeley to help on the farm of his wife's family. Chalker married Leeanne Fischer in 2006 and credits her with helping him transition from military to civilian life.
With some spare time, he decided to help out on the family farm this summer.
"Farming is not an easy job," he said. "It was like therapy to me."
Linda Methven, Leeanne Chalker's sister, said he threw himself into the tasks at hand.
"What makes Dennis Chalker different from most people is he charges on from one level of expertise and challenges to another," Methven said in an email. "After hearing about the failure to remove crops and hay from the fields due to the rain in the previous years, he wanted to help. Dennis spent the summer in Edgeley, working with both brothers-in-law. Standing in water, at times waist-high, he used a scythe to cut reeds and learned how to put up fence. He also jumped on the tractor and was raking, baling hay and hauling it home."
Chalker returned to his life of training law enforcement and military personnel in September.
"I've got to go back, but I'm looking forward to coming back to North Dakota," he said.