Todd Linder (’77): Saving Soldiers’ Lives

Todd Linder (’77) is aware of the importance of his job—and the reward for doing it well.

“I do look at my job as keeping soldiers alive, and that makes it a critical job,” Linder said.

The 60-year-old Montana resident is working in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. He trains American soldiers in the use of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) systems that detect mines and underground improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Linder, retired from the Army Reserve, is a contract employee for Niitek, Inc., which manufactures GPR equipment.

Linder said the GPR has found hundreds of IEDs since the Army first began using it in 2008. The device is mounted on a “Husky,” (right) a huge military vehicle built to withstand an 800-pound explosion (a 300-pound IED can level a small building).

The GPR is primarily for detecting buried bombs. If the GPR spots one, another vehicle is called to dig up the IED or the bomb may be detonated remotely. Data is recorded and analyzed, allowing the system to constantly be improved.

Linder was an Elementary Education major at Maranatha and taught lower elementary grades for 17 years. He now spends his days showing soldiers how to use the GPR.

“This has allowed me to get back to my teaching roots, so to speak,” Linder said.

He was in the National Guard from 1970-76 and rejoined the Reserves in 1993. Linder was deployed to Iraq in 2003-04 and Afghanistan in 2010-11.

Linder and wife Judy have two sons and a daughter, one grandchild, and another on the way. Their daughter, Rebecca (Linder) Prain, is a 2003 Maranatha graduate.

“What I have found out here is that there is absolutely a crying need for good chaplains,” Linder said. “There are new restrictions that make that job more difficult, but a chaplain can also conduct a Bible study where he can speak the truth without reservation in an informal setting.”

Linder hopes to spend another year or two training soldiers in GPR use and then return home to Montana, where he was employed by an electronics firm.

“IEDs are a threat for any solider walking on a road here,” Linder said. “This system has been a lifesaver for many, and being able to help save lives is a vital part of why I am here.”