By R.J. Smiley
Proof that dynamite comes in small packages.
Standing only 4’11”, Colonel Laura Ludwig stands tall in the pursuit of her goals. Laura is loyal to her friends and colleagues and very dedicated to her well thought out beliefs. She is extremely smart, articulate and charming. But, when forced into a corner, she can be feisty as a Chihuahua. When Laura is relaxed, that cute little smile and a twinkle in her eye make you want to understand her innermost thoughts. She rides a Harley and can do 45 push-ups. Dynamite comes in small packages!
At age 60, with 36 years of military service (active duty, Army Reserve and National Guard) Laura Ludwig is a retired Bird Colonel. During her 18 months as Chief at Langstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, Colonel Ludwig had her own parking space at the Officer’s Club/Golf Course.
Laura is approaching the twilight of her civilian career as a CRNA (Nurse Anesthetist) at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park. During her 30 year, on again – off again, civilian medical career, she has earned the respect of her peers and management while serving five different tours in war torn places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Laura grew up the eldest of five daughters in a military family. Her dad was a general in the Minnesota National Guard and spent a great deal of time away from home. As the oldest child, Laura assumed a great deal of family responsibilities, raising herself and her sisters. To this day, Laura gives credit for her personal success to the fact that she had to learn at a young age to use time wisely and to have a backup plan for every situation.
She joined the National Guard at age 17 to “run-away-from-home.” Laura had been working since age 13 to earn her own money and wanted to control her life. That was the start of two career paths running on parallel tracks, one in the military and the other in nursing.
The single mother of two daughters, Laura has had to deal with the ups and downs of raising two, millennial generation, daughters, sometimes from long distance. Being a grandmother is something new for Laura, but you can bet that she will excel at this job also.
As Laura advanced in her military career she always had a “back up plan.” “I always wanted to be where the action was. You know, like coach put me in the game,” she said with a smile. “I resigned my commission in the National Guard and joined the Reserve. I could see that in the Reserve there was a slot where a woman who worked hard could move up and get promoted.”
There are many VERY interesting stories of Laura and her military career. This one is my favorite: Laura had worked her plan to perfection. She was in fact where the action was, a small field hospital in northern Iraq. She was now Colonel Ludwig, the only person with anesthesia training. Laura recalls, “We had been through hours of endless operations. The operating room floor was covered with blood. As I was busy mopping up the blood from the floor, the surgeon, who was a Captain, said to me, ‘Hey you go get the next patient.’ I reached inside my scrubs, pushed my ID at him and said, ‘Colonels don’t fetch! You go get the next patient.’”
Laura, who learned to play golf in her mid 20’s, attacks the golf course with the same vigor as she does every other facet of her life. She has no clue about the meaning of the word “lag-putt.” She can quickly brush-off the frustrations of golf and immediately attack the next hole with renewed enthusiasm. When it comes to “Scramble Golf Tournaments” Laura Ludwig is a star. With three other players to back her up, she can go for broke on every shot.
“During my early years playing golf when people would ask my handicap I would say my handicap is 32. As in 3 jobs and 2 kids – 32.”
For years, when Laura was in the States, she kept Tuesday afternoons open to play golf with her dad and his retired buddies. “Those Tuesday afternoon rounds were played strictly for the entertainment value.” Laura admits that she and her dad are best friends (on and off the golf course), even though they nit pick and correct each other’s every move. Laura and her dad, Art, also share several days each summer on the water fishing. Last summer Laura won a fishing tournament, boating a 31-inch walleye.
Laura plays occasionally at Rush Creek where she has a range pass. When she can find time she loves to beat balls. “The food is great at Rush Creek, and I really enjoy their white wine sangria after golf.”
In August 2017 Laura showed up at Baker National for the MGA Senior Tour’s Mixed 4-Ball Championship 9:00 AM shotgun start. It was not until after Laura and yours truly, the writer of this story, had won the gross division, that she informed us that she had pulled a 24-hour, no-sleep, shift at Methodist Hospital the night before. “Well, I had time to take a shower before we teed-off,” she smiled.
The no sleep Senior Tour event is not the only proof of Laura’s golf stamina. My old golf course, Mille Lacs Golf Resort, had an annual golf event to raise money for cancer, The 10,000 Hole Challenge. It was a daylong golf event where each of the 100 players played 100 holes of golf. Little Laura played big; she collected her $1,000 pledges and played her 100 holes at two of the annual events.
Today, with only one full time job, Laura has become focused on helping homeless vets, especially women vets. She is vice-chair of the Women Veterans Initiative, working hand in hand with Eagles Healing Nest on the grounds of the old Anoka State Hospital. Eagles Healing Nest provides housing and a healing environment for homeless vets. The Women Veterans Initiative has been assigned cottage #4 to renovate and remodel for homeless women vets.
Laura is also a member of the American Legion, the VFW, and the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Group. The Minnesota motorcycle chapter has approximately 30 members who have served in a combat zone and ride at least a 500cc bike. Little Laura, who has been riding since high school, has a special low profile bike. She is also a member of the Patriot Guard where she stands in a Flag Line at funerals for military personnel and places wreaths at the National Cemetery at Christmas.
In addition to all of this, Laura helps promote Grounded, an award winning one-woman play. (Synopsis – A hotshot woman pilot gets pregnant. She was grounded and sent back to the States. In a windowless trailer she operated drones in Afghanistan during the day and carried on a normal mom’s life at night.) Laura and other women vets answer questions from the audience after the production. On February 18, Laura will be the featured speaker as part of the Grounded performance at the Perpich Center for Arts Education.
Colonel Laura Ludwig – Dynamite does come in a small package!