With Veterans Day approaching on Nov. 11, residents take pause to remember those who’ve served in the military.
In a veteran-rich community such as Augusta, it’s not uncommon to encounter people with prior military service working in second careers.
Mark Lawrence Bakke works as a customer service supervisor at Northside Lanes in North Augusta, but he also served in the Army.
“I served a 20-year career. I’m a Desert Storm veteran and served at the White House Communications Agency during that war,” said Bakke, a North Dakota native who retired as a staff sergeant in 2002.
At the communications agency, he worked in direct support of the president, providing computer and communications services to keep the battlefield commanders in touch with the Pentagon and White House.
He was at the forefront of dealing with the emerging threat of cyber warfare.
“I worked with (National Security Agency) liaisons to help identify threats and keep the White House computer systems safe and secure,” he said.
Bakke was an instructor at the Computer Science School for the last seven years of his career and then retired, deciding to stay in Augusta. His time in the military sparked an interest in history and historical conflicts.
One of Bakke’s hobbies is board games.
For many years, Bakke has led board games at both the old location of Augusta Book Exchange (now called ABX) on Gordon Highway and its new location in Martinez.
“We call Mark the ‘Local Board Game Guru’. I believe he owns over 1,700 board games and brings a great selection of them to the store several times a week. He is very welcoming to new players,” Paul Rogers, owner of ABX, said.
Bakke’s BoardGameGeek registry is up to 1,726 games. BoardGameGeek is an online board game forum and game database which is located here: https://boardgamegeek.com/ .
One of Bakke’s early favorites was the board game Stratego, which he played quite a bit in his younger days. In Stratego, players lead their respective armies to try to capture their opponent’s flag.
“I still love strategy games but have gone to ones that are deeper than Stratego,” Bakke said.
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