Local connections to servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan

Another bad weekend for US armed forces in Iraq. See this NYTimes news story about 27 more deaths. And then I saw David and Pat Allen’s letter to the editor in the Northfield News about how their daughter’s fiance has had his National Guard tour of duty in Iraq extended once again.

armed_services.gifIt occurred to me that I didn’t know of any place online where I could check to see who from the Northfield area is currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, or who from the area has a relative or close friend there.

The local American Legion doesn’t have a website, nor does the VFW (there is this history of the Northfield VFW, however).

I checked the Northfield Area Veterans Memorial and decided to call Larry Turner who was one of the leaders from the VFW on that project. We spoke today and he’s going to contact some people to see what could be done.

In the meatime, I’d like to start collecting names and info here. Attach a comment if you know someone, or have ideas on how to put this together.

17 thoughts on “Local connections to servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan”

  1. The reason you do not see those types of lists, is due to operational security. Posting these online would be a very bad idea. No disrespect, because I know you mean well, but please do not do it.

    If you really want to help, contact the Public Affairs officer or the Family Support coordinator of your local unit. These folks could use all of the support that they can get.

    I was in the service for over 18 years, and I have been deployed many times during that time. Personally, I would NOT like to have my name and duty location disclosed on the public internet. Doing so puts me and my family at increased risk. However, if the community was to get behind my unit, checking in on my family, and sending cards, letters, and COOKIES of support, I would be quite pleased.

    Griff, the community truly needs a way to get behind the troops. They need all of the support they can get.

    The first place I would start is to get ahold of the First SGT at the local Armory center on a drill weekend. (its right accross from the VFW) He would be able to get you in touch with the right people.

    If not there, get ahold of the public affairs officer at the armory in Rosemont. I believe that is the next higher headquarters for the unit here in town.

    I hope that helps.

    I thank you, for the troops, for your support.

    Regards,
    -John

  2. Thanks for chiming in, John. I’m confused, tho! All I had in mind was a listing of names, rank, branch of service, a photo, and where they’re stationed.

    How would that different than the Northfield News running a story like this one in which it reports that Councillor Arnie Nelson got a visit from “… Army Staff Sgt. Chris Haars, a Northfield soldier he’s been exchanging correspondence with while he was in Kuwait.”
    http://northfieldnews.com/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=16305&SectionID=26&SubSectionID=62&S=1

    Or how would that be different than this page on the MN National Guard site:
    http://www.minnesotanationalguard.org/units/unit_template.php?unit=PUZAA

    in which there’s a photo identifying “1st Lt. Dave Colemer of Moorhead, Minn., 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division” in Iraq?

    Coincidentally, Katherine Kersten’s column in the Strib today is about this issue:

    Helping hands stretch out to state’s military families
    http://www.startribune.com/191/story/950916.html

    and Mary Pawlenty’s Military Family Care Initiative
    http://www.firstlady.state.mn.us/initiatives_militaryfamily.html
    “a program that allows community organizations to volunteer their time and services to help families of deployed soldiers.”

  3. Amazing… I was just going to send you that link.

    http://www.startribune.com/191/story/950916.html

    What I am getting at, is trying to keep the list in generalizations. (not identifing a unit or a specific location.)

    Your quote:
    “Army Staff Sgt. Chris Haars, a Northfield soldier he’s been exchanging correspondence with while he was in Kuwait”

    is a perfect example of the way to do it.

    I guess where I am going is it would be better to DO SOMETHING as a community. A list is nice, but it is only a list. I would like to see the community get involved to actually do someting meaningful to support the troops other than putting up a sign or tying a ribbon to a tree.

    These families are experiencing extrememly long, open ended deployments. It is not easy for them, and I would love to see some homegrown support flourish here.

    I will be visiting the MN First Lady’s website today, to see if there is anything I can do to help.

    Thanks Griff!

  4. Thanks for the clarification, John.

    I searched for Northfield organizations who’ve signed up to help on Pawlenty’s site at:
    http://156.99.41.1/FamilyPrograms-asp%20pages/firstladysrchNew1.asp

    Northfield Kennels: pet sit

    City of Northfield employees:

    Prepare and deliver meals
    Prepare & deliver a gift basket
    Wash windows
    Rake leaves
    Trim hedges
    Clean gutters
    Mow lawns
    Plant flowers
    Weed gardens
    Paint or repair a fence
    Wash cars
    Chop wood
    Help with farm chores
    Help with household chores
    Stain decks
    Shovel/plow sidewalks or driveways
    Send cards or letters of encouragement
    Pet sit
    Organize a birthday party
    Give wedding/baby shower
    Handyman (Minor Home Repairs)

    This seems in need of a local promotional boost.

    And it would seem to need a way to make it more come alive with stories and photos and… hey, blogging!

    I wonder if 5th Bridge would help this happen?
    http://www.5thbridge.org/

    FYI, there’s a list of MN National Guard bloggers at:
    http://www.minnesotanationalguard.org/press_room/blogs/

  5. I’m sitting in Northeast Afghanistan on the night shift (1:45 a.m., 10.5 hours ahead of Northfield time). Things are quiet, expecting 6-7″ of snow in the valley.

    Sean Code
    NHS Missota Hockey Champs ’87

  6. unfortunately, i am not able to open the picture file, probably due to information security. but if i had to guess, it is probably a picture of my father, mark code, and his pals drinking coffee at the blue monday cafe.

  7. You nailed it, Sean. They’re all out on the sidewalk… obstructing pedestrians, bigtime.

    I know your dad from my days as a school social worker for the Faribault Schools…. waaaay back in the early 80s.

    So I’m interested in your reaction to the ideas being kicked around in this comment thread re: something online that would let Northfielders know who’s currently serving in the armed forces from the area… and would also serve as a way to get more community members engaged in providing support to the service members’ families.

  8. John has a good point about operational security. we should be careful to avoid mention of the timing and scale of unit operations, future intent, locations, readiness, ect. i admire your effort to connect the community with those serving overseas, as military service is a diminishing part of minnesota’s heritage.

  9. Griff,
    I want to thank you for your efforts to help the soldiers and families of the military stay connected to Northfielders. Supportive comments from local residents are so valuable for family members, so they know the sacrifices their loved ones make are valued and respected by their community.
    Pat Allen

  10. In today’s Northfield News:

    Something Blue: Fiancée of deployed soldier tackles plans for an October wedding alone
    http://northfieldnews.com/main.asp?SectionID=21&SubSectionID=44&ArticleID=19260

    Bridget Allen on Tuesday sends an instant message from her parents’ home in Northfield to her fiancé Aaron Reuvers, a medic with the Minnesota National Guard 134th Infantry Division, currently stationed south of Baghdad. (News photo by Dan Iverson)

  11. Hey Griff,
    This is great! Having a connection to people who serve our country on a local level is really cool. I would just like to say that I respect our men and women who serve in the armed forces. I wish the best for them all and would like to let them know they have my support.

    -Nick

  12. Thanks for posting that, Nick.

    I spoke again this week with Larry Turner at the Northfield VFW post. He gave me a couple more names of people who might be able to help get a web site going. I left messages for them today.

    Dean Castle, Northfield National Guard

    Bruce Stowe, Northfield resident who’s in a Guard unit in Roseville.

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