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  • The Path Back to Iraq Morris Sun Tribune Published Saturday, February 07, 2009 By Tom Larson, Sun Tribune

  • "The Minnesota National Guard’s 1st Battalion 151st Field Artillery will deploy overseas sometime this summer, the second time the company has been sent into the Iraq theatre since 2004. Four "Charlie Company" soldiers from the Morris and Ortonville National Guard units talked Thursday about their circumstances as their April deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom approaches. From left are Brent Fuhrman, Jason Peterson, Jeff Anderson and Darin Doschadis. Four "Charlie Company" soldiers from the Morris and Ortonville National Guard units talked Thursday about their circumstances as their April deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom approaches.
    From left are Brent Fuhrman, Jason Peterson, Jeff Anderson and Darin Doschadis.
    Morris Sun Tribune Talk About It Icon Add a comment It seems like just yesterday when families cried and hugged at that first departure ceremony, when communities collectively grieved the loss of three Charlie Company soldiers who died in action, and smiled and cheered and cried again when buses filled with members of the 151st returned home on a cold night in December 2005.
    But a lifetime of stories unfolded during the year the Guard soldiers were away and in the years since they returned. Many of those stories will be talked about among families and friends between now and April 15, when the Charlie Company troops leave for another year-long deployment.
    Here, briefly, are four of those stories.
    Walking out the door
    With Charlie Company preparing for another assignment in Operation Iraqi Freedom, some might believe this is old hat for the 105 area Charlie Company soldiers among the 560 who comprise the 151st.
    But going to war is never a situation that can be described as been-there, done-that. And it ignores the fact that most of the Guard soldiers being deployed this spring will be making their first trip in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. More than 70 percent of the troops in the company will be deployed for the first time, said Staff Sgt. Brent Fuhrman, the Morris National Guard Readiness NCO, who himself is making his first trip to Iraq.
    "We've been building up for this for about a year," Fuhrman said. "We got our alert order in February (2008) and we’ve been training ever since; training and transforming the company into something that will mirror what we’ve been told we have to look like when we get there. There are a lot of training steps, and it’s a lot of work taking guys who have been working in factories, banks and on farms and transforming them into full-time soldiers. It takes time."
    The 560 soldiers in the 151st come from 234 Minnesota communities, with five Guard units deploying from the communities of Morris, Ortonville, Appleton, Madison, Montevideo, Olivia and Marshall.
    In 2004, Fuhrman was one of those soldiers, but he was not among those deployed to Iraq. He stayed behind to handle company operations in Morris. This time, he’s heading out, first for training at Fort Hood, Texas, and then to the 151st headquarters in Camp Virginia in Kuwait.
    "I’ve got mixed emotions," Fuhrman said. "Obviously, I’ve got a family (wife Darcy and three children) and that part will be really tough. Last time, I was blessed to not have to go. At the same time, one of the toughest things I ever did was watch these guys walk out the door. I’m proud and excited to be part of this and to work with these guys."
    Charlie Company received its official deployment orders late last month. On March 28, soldiers from Morris, Ortonville and Olivia will be honored at a departure ceremony, and a ceremony for the Guardsmen from the other four communities is April 4.
    Jason Peterson was among the soldiers in the University of Minnesota, Morris’ P.E. Center in 2004, preparing to leave behind his wife, Rebecca, and two children and head to Iraq.
    He was sort of a jack-of-all-trades, working convoy security, VIP security and securing prisoners and other duties at a combat support hospital.
    This time, Peterson has yet another job, replacing Fuhrman as the Guardsman in charge of operations at the Morris Armory.
    "It’s going to be nerve-wracking, for sure," said Peterson. 151st soldiers now come from an area that stretches from Minnesota’s Iron Range down to Colorado, which means he’ll be dealing with many more families from a much large geographical area.
    "I think I’d rather be deployed," said Peterson, who lives in Glenwood. "But things have to be done here, and the soldiers here have things that need to be taken care of, and there are a lot more families that will need assistance this time."
    His own included. Peterson had been home about two years when, in October 2007, his wife was killed in a car crash near Cyrus.
    Jason and his daughter, Bailley, 8, and son Preston, 6, are carrying on.
    A son leaves
    Jeff Anderson, of Ortonville, is carrying on, too.
    Anderson was deployed with Charlie Company in 2004, and he finds it interesting how things have changed.
    Back then, the company’s missions were all but state secrets. This time, press releases outline where the company will be stationed, what it will be doing and when it will return.
    "The last one was so secret we didn’t even know where we were going until we hit home,” Anderson said. “This one pretty much tells everything."
    That may be an indication of how much things have changed in Iraq since Charlie Company boots were first on the ground there. Anderson has a friend who is an Army captain in Iraq. The captain, who is in air cavalry, told Anderson that it’s a much different environment in Iraq these days. U.S. soldiers have a lot less to do because Iraqis have taken control of almost all duties and operations.
    "He told me, ‘Jeff, I don’t even think you’ll come,’ " Anderson said. “Well, that didn’t happen, but he said it’s amazing how much has changed."
    Much will be different for Anderson this time around, too.
    While in Iraq during his first deployment, his mother and younger brother both died. His brother died in a car crash near Morris in July 2005.
    Anderson will be seen off this time by his father, Richard, a brother and a sister.
    “My dad is having a lot tougher time with it this time around,” he said.
    A new father leaves
    Darin Doschadis, of Graceville, was a single man when he deployed with Charlie Company in 2004.
    While in Iraq, he and other soldiers were charged with guarding a police station, convoy security and escort missions. When word came that Charlie Company would be deployed again, Doschadis knew what to expect, and he had the experience to help first-timers with their preparations.
    "It’s easier for people this time to get their families in order," he said. “We know what to expect this time. But while it’s easier for us this time, it’s not for those who are being deployed for the first time."
    But Doschadis admits his second deployment will be much more difficult.
    Between the time he returned and now, he married and became a father. This time, he will be leaving behind his wife of two years, Amber, and 2-year-old son, Zander.
    "It’s tougher, leaving a son and a wife, this time than it was before," Doschadis said. "It’s a little harder walking out the door when you know you’re leaving a son."
    The risks are known
    All four soldiers get a little somber when the subject of their three comrades is raised. Just outside the window in the room where they are sitting is a memorial to Staff Sgt. David F. Day, First Lt. Jason Timmerman and Sgt. Jesse Lhotka, who were killed during a mission in Iraq in February 2005.
    While the missions and the environment in Iraq have changed, they all understand that they always are at risk of not returning home.
    "They’ll be with us in spirit,” Fuhrman said. "As leaders, we train hard to reduce risk as much as we can. As leaders, that’s why we take our training so seriously."
    Peterson said that worrying about dying in a war zone is something well-trained soldiers can’t concern themselves with.
    "You can die here just as easily as you can die there,” he said. “Look what happened to my wife. It doesn’t matter."
    Anderson said the risks are always in the back of a soldier’s mind -- "That it could happen to you."
    "But it just makes you train harder, to work harder in Combat Life Saver Training so you know what’s going on and that you can be ready so you can save somebody," he said. "That fear helps. It keeps you alert."
    1st Battalion 151st Deployment Facts & Figures
    -The 1st Battalion 151st’s departure ceremonies are March 28 for soldiers from Morris, Ortonville and Olivia, and April 4 for soldiers from Appleton, Montevideo, Madison and Marshall.
    -The troops will train from April to July at Ft. Hood, Texas.
    - The troops will arrive and be headquartered at Camp Virginia in Kuwait in July. They are scheduled to return to Minnesota in April 2010.
    - As it did in 2004, the 1st Battalion 151st Field Artillery will again switch gears once deployed, serving as a security force for convoy operations and logistical supplies throughout Iraq.
    - This will be the first deployment for 409 of the 560 battalion soldiers (72 percent). This will be the second tour for 140 (25 percent). For nine soldiers, this is their third deployment, and two are making their fourth trip."

    {Photo Gallery}

    "Sending Off Ceremony"
    Morris Area High School Gym

    Lee Community Center

  • Guard troops, families honored at deployment ceremony
    "Supporters filled the Morris Area Elementary gymnasium Saturday for a send-off for local troops headed to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
    Some 560 soldiers with the Minnesota Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion 151st Artillery are being deployed to the Middle East. The soldiers are deploying from units in Montevideo, Olivia, Appleton, Marshall, Madison, Morris and Ortonville.
    The event, lasting about 45 minutes, was filled with words of support and encouragement for the soldiers, their families, employers and communities.
    The program featured remarks by Major General Larry Shellito, Minnesota's Adjutant General, First Lady Mary Pawlenty, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Charlie Battery Commander Capt. David Johannson
    Gov. Pawlenty told the soldiers that the saying, "freedom isn't free," but he added that "not everybody pays the same price. The individuals sitting in front of us are willing to pick up heavier lift and the family members are willing to carry a heavier load a longer distance for the cause and price of freedom. We are grateful and respectful for that."
    The troops will be led by Lt. Col. Scott St. Sauver. The Minnesota troops will be part of a 2,900-soldier brigade with soldiers from units in Wyoming, South Dakota, Alabama and Colorado.
    In announcing the deployment, St. Sauver said that about 400 to 450 of the Minnesota soldiers will be directly involved with convoy escort service, while the remainder will serve in command, maintenance, communication and other missions at Camp Virginia.
    The troops are scheduled to leave Minnesota on April 19.
    Complete details of the ceremony will be published in the April 1, 2009 Morris Sun Tribune. "


    -Memorial Day

  • Memorial Day address by Victor Gades, Published June 02 2010

  • " Here is the Memorial Day address by Victor Gades, delivered during the annual program at the Morris National Guard Armory on May 31. The address included a video "Remember Me" by Lizzie Palmer, a 15 year old from Ohio. A YouTube video of "Remember Me" is at:

    Victor Gades address:

    After viewing this video, Hank Millward from Virginia wrote:

    "What the American public needs to remember is that, although you may not support the current war efforts, or other U.S. Military involvement around the globe… you have a duty as an American citizen to support the men and women that serve in the Armed Forces. They have chosen to serve in the military, and although they may not have chosen to be in the position that the military has placed them in, they do their duty each day, not knowing if it will be their last. Whether you know someone serving in the military through a family connection or some other means … ALL military members should expect to know that they are appreciated as a person first, doing their chosen duty, and then as a soldier, sailor, airman,
    or marine. They are the providers of the very blanket of security under which we as Americans lay down to rest every day.
    They have chosen to serve and, if called upon, to pay the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that America remains the land of the free, BECAUSE of the brave.”
    NOW! Those of us who are still breathing cannot repay the sacrifice of those who gave their lives defending us, but at the very least, we can and we must remember them.
    Sadly, none of the more than 1 million men and Women who have died in service to this nation in wars and conflicts since 1775 can be replaced. Most were young – in the prime of their lives. Some were husbands, wives, fathers or mothers. All left a nation that is in their debt.
    If you asked these heroes before they died how they would like to be honored, most would probably say “Take care of my family.”
    The empty seat at the dinner table, the smaller gathering on Thanksgiving and the daughter who has no father to walk her down the wedding aisle are painful reminders that they are gone.
    We must continue to live up to President Lincoln’s promise to not just care for him who shall have borne the battle, but for his widow and his orphan. Remembering our fallen once a year is not enough. We must continue the legacy for which they died: the causes of democracy, decency and patriotism.
    While Memorial Day is intended to honor our fallen, we should not forget those who have pledged to make the same sacrifice if called upon – the young men and women still serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the United States and in more than 130 foreign lands.
    We must continue to bear witness for those who never returned from the
    deserts of the Middle East, the jungles of Vietnam, the “Forgotten War” in
    Korea, the islands in the Pacific, and the European continent.
    Several years ago, retired Navy Admiral Bill Owens wrote in The American Legion Magazine, “Many of us know the pain of losing a comrade who stood by
    our side. And we have shed many tears when our comrades were lost on
    battlefields around the world in pursuit of something they knew to be
    important, something they did on the command of their leaders and with
    confidence that that leadership would not let them down.”
    Just as these heroes were confident in their wartime leaders – we must remain confident and committed to ensure that our national leaders know that the sacrifice made by these young men and women was in pursuit of something they, too, knew to be important.
    America must remain the world’s beacon of freedom. We must represent the aspiration and hope of millions of people, that through hard work and perseverance, anyone can succeed in this fair and just society.
    Writing in a letter from a Birmingham jail, Dr. Martin Luther King could have been describing countless American military missions when he wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
    So today, on this most sacred day, we pause to Reflect on what has been given and sacrificed. Let us never forget. But let us also remember what resulted from these sacrifices. Let us remember the terrorist plots that were foiled and the killers that have been brought to justice because Americans were willing to pay the price. Let us remember the tyrannical regimes that have been toppled and the genocides that were stopped because Americans sacrificed life and limb.
    Let us remember that without a U.S. military, the world would be a far
    more oppressive and darker place.
    Freedom is not a gift. It is an earned benefit that was paid for by the blood of our heroes. From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terrorism, the sacrifices and caliber of America’s fighting men and women have been nothing short of inspirational.
    One of the most poignant poems of World War I is Titled “In Flanders Fields.” In it, Canadian John McCrae seems to not only describe the fallen heroes of that war, but those of every era:

    “In Flanders fields the poppies grow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.
    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Love, and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.
    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.
    Let us always remember them. God bless you all, and God bless America.

    Remember Me

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