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Editorial: Soldiers return to families and state

It has been a tragic time for Minnesota soldiers and their families during this past week as five Minnesota soldiers lost their lives in the service of their country.

On July 16, three Minnesota National Guardsmen were killed by an indirect fire attack on a U.S. base in Basra, Iraq. The three members of the 34th Military Police Company, 34th Infantry "Red Bulls" Division, killed were:

- James Wertish, 20, of Olivia

- Daniel Drevnick, 22, of Woodbury

- Carlos Wilcox, 27, of Cottage Grove.

On Friday, Thomas Gramith, 27, of Eagan died after an F-15 crash in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Over the weekend, Ben Kopp of Rosemount died at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington. He suffered a gunshot wound on July 10 while serving in Afghanistan.

The body of Wertish is scheduled to arrive at 10:23 a.m. today at the National Guard Base in the St. Paul airport.

His body will then be escorted along U.S. Highway 212 to Olivia. The procession is expected to arrive at Dirks-Blem Funeral Home between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. today. The public is invited to gather along Highway 212 in Bird Island and Olivia to greet the procession.

Our thanks go out to these five soldiers for their service and sacrifice. Our thoughts go out to these five families in this time of loss.