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Commentary: Welcome home to Wertish of Olivia

U.S. Army National Guard Spc. James Wertish returned home to Olivia Thursday as community members gathered along U.S. Highway 212 in his honor.

His family, a military honor guard, and two Patriot Guard units escorted Wertish's body home past the family farm and to Olivia.

Wertish, 20, was killed July 16 by a missile attack at a base in Basra, Iraq, along with Spc. Carlos Wilcox IV, 27, of Cottage Grove and Spc. Daniel Drevnick, 22, of Woodbury. All were members of the 34th Military Police, 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division.

To his parents -- David and Kim (Rathman) Wertish of Olivia -- we offer condolences on the behalf of west central Minnesota and the nation for the loss of your son.

To the entire Wertish and Rathman families and friends, we offer our condolences for the loss of your brother, grandson, nephew, cousin or friend.

To his family and friends, we know our words cannot ease the pain of the loss of James. Please know that west central Minnesota and the rest of the state have you in their thoughts and prayers at this time.

To the members of the 34th Military Police and all the members of the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division serving in Iraq and here in Minnesota, our thoughts and prayers are with each of you in this time of loss and for the remainder of your tour.

As has been said many times before, there is no greater sacrifice than to give one's life in the service of one's country. We thank each of you for James' sacrifice.

To Spc. Wertish, we thank you for your service and wish you "Godspeed."