ND veteran to be honored at Super Bowl

What started as a small project from a foundation led to two area veterans landing tickets for Super Bowl LII.

Bethany Kibler, a seventh year doctoral student at Harvard University and a member of Student Veterans of America, received a call from a foundation weeks before the Super Bowl wanting names and stories of eight to 10 veterans from the North Dakota and Minnesota areas and knew she was the woman for the job.

Though Kibler was born in Baltimore, Maryland, she visited her father and spent summers in Minot since 2001. After finishing college, Kibler moved to Minot permanently and decided to join the Army. With that, she had North Dakota ties and knew she could get some deserving names on that list. One being Larae Beth.

Beth, from outside of Jamestown, decided to join the military after graduating high school, which happened to be around the same time Kibler joined. The two both did really well on any tests their recruiter was throwing at them, which happened to be the same man out of Fargo. Both women were acing their training and coming along really well. The catch, they’d never met.

“Beth and I had the same recruiter out of Fargo,” Kibler said. “We got the top two scores on the DLAB ever recorded in North Dakota, and both signed up to be Human Intelligence Linguists.”

Kibler said the recruiter was so stunned to have such great and similar recruits that he couldn’t stop talking about them. Kibler would hear about Beth and vice versa until they finally went to training camp and went their separate ways.

By chance a year later, in Monterey, California, the pair happened to meet as they were walking down opposite sides of the street. Kibler stopped walking, as did Beth, and they just looked at each other.

“I crossed over and we both stared at eachother trying to figure out how we knew each other. Then, she said ‘Are you Bethany Kibler?’ Turns out we recognized each other from the photos on the recruiter’s wall,” Kibler said.

The two, again, went their separate ways, only to reconnect three years later at Ft. Lewis in Washington. Soldiers from units across the country had been chosen in ones and twos to stand up a new unit to deploy.

“So two linguists from North Dakota, against a lot of odds, end up on the same deployment to Iraq where our paths crossed quite frequently,” Kibler said.

Since their time in Iraq together, the pair has kept in touch and tried to meet up a few times.

When Kibler got the call wanting names of veterans, she knew Beth was exactly the kind of person they were looking for.

About a week ago, Kibler and Beth both received calls that Beth had been picked to be honored at Super Bowl LII. Beth received two tickets to go and decided to pick Kibler to come along with her.

“I love the idea that Larae and I come from completely different backgrounds, but we have this random, serendipitous connection,” Kibler said of the whole experience.

Beth and Kibler’s paths will cross once more as they meet today, once again, to be honored along with others as top student veterans.