Hundreds from area deployed; seven lost their lives
MONTEVIDEO -- West central Minnesota has sent hundreds of men and women to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and experienced the sorrow of losing seven of its own.
One of the heaviest burdens fell on soldiers serving in the 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery of the Minnesota National Guard. The Montevideo-based battalion --with armories in Olivia, Appleton, Madison, Ortonville, Morris and Marshall -- completed two deployments in the MidEast.
More than 330 soldiers with the battalion were deployed to Iraq in 2004-05 to serve in a military police assignment, largely around Baghdad.
Some 560 soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 151st were called to serve again: The 2009-2010 deployment saw soldiers based in Kuwait providing convoy security throughout Iraq.
Soldiers assigned to the Willmar Engineering Battalion and Quartermaster Detachment have served assignments in Iraq and Bosnia.
Local soldiers killed in Mideast:
Spc. James Wertish, 20, of Olivia, died July 16, 2009, in Basrah, Iraq, serving with the 34th Military Police Company of the 34th Infantry Division
Sgt. Kyle R. Miller, 19, of Bird Island and Willmar, died June 29, 2006, in Balad, Iraq, serving with the 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery;
Sgt. Brent W. Koch, 22, of Morgan, died June 16, 2006, in Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq, serving with E Company, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion of the 135th Infantry;
Staff Sgt. David Day, 25, of St. Louis Park and Morris, died Feb. 21, 2005, in Baghdad, serving with C Company, 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery;
Sgt. Jesse M. Lhotka, 24, of Appleton, died Feb. 21, 2005, in Baghdad, serving with C Company, 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery;
1st Lt. Jason Timmerman, 24, Tracy, died Feb. 21, 2005, in Baghdad, serving with C Company, 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery;
Sgt. Matthew Ryan Kahler, 29, Granite Falls, died Jan. 26, 2008, in Waygul, Afghanistan, while serving with 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry, U.S. Army