At his State Capitol reception room Wednesday, Gov. Mark Dayton thanked Erica Ferrian and her husband, Specialist Daniel Ferrian, for his service. Ferrian will miss his 15-month old daughter Eva's second birthday when he is deployed for Iraq with the National Guard.
An Army unit that measures Army units is being deployed to Iraq.
Four members of the Minnesota National Guard's 107th Test Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment Detachment were sent to Fort Hood, Texas, this week to begin a yearlong deployment to Iraq. In one of the most obscure jobs in the military, they test, measure and calibrate the Army's stuff, from torque wrenches, to radios, to gauges on airplanes.
"Pretty much anything the Army uses to test equipment, we test that test equipment to make sure it's working properly," said Sgt. Todd Allshouse, a Browersville, Minn., resident who is one of the four going to Iraq. "If they can't trust their equipment, things come down. Planes come down."
The soldiers, who will be attached to a Guard unit from another state, don't know where they will be stationed, but it's likely they'll play a role in ensuring military equipment is ready to be recovered as the United States begins to draw down troops and supplies from Iraq.
In a small reception Wednesday at the State Capitol, Gov. Mark Dayton wished the soldiers well, assuring them and tearful family members that they are heroes and that things in Iraq have calmed. Later this year, 2,400 members of the Guard's First Brigade Combat Team will be going to Kuwait to provide base and convoy security to further support the U.S. drawdown.
A former U.S. senator and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Dayton said he was aware of the solemnity of sending people off to a war zone. In December before taking office, Dayton accompanied his predecessor, Tim Pawlenty, to a funeral service for the most recent Minnesotan killed in combat. As a senator, he often held picnics for family members of deployed soldiers.
"It's a very somber moment to see the families, the tears, the sadness," he said. "I asked them to invite me back when their loved ones return. It's an incredible commitment for those that serve. I have great respect for them."
Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434