Tuesday, July 12, 2011


This past Sunday had to be one of the most difficult for all those associated with the deployment of the Iowa National Guard troops to Afghanistan.  At 4 p.m., Capt. Matthew Nielson was buried at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery in Van Meter, Iowa.  Hours later at a news conference held at Camp Dodge news came of the death of another guardsman, Sgt. 1st Class Terryl L. Pasker of Cedar Rapids.  The following is a release regarding the latest issue:

Eipperle was wounded in the attack.  He is being treated for his injuries at a U.S. Army facility in Germany.

Sgt. 1st Class Terryl L. Pasker
This has been pure agony.  Both Sgt. 1st Class Pasker and Master Sgt. Eipperle were days away from leaving the Afghan area.  To think these soldiers were on a mission in what has been described as a "peaceful" area of Afghanistan and to have this fate is unfathomable.  Our prayers go out to both soldiers families.  

"When they were filled, God said unto his disciples, gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost".  -John 6:12

Several writings ago, I spoke of "picking up the pieces".  Today and for many more days, there will be questions and thoughts regarding the deaths of our two latest soldiers.  Why did they get so close to returning to their families and friends and then lose their lives?  I do not know.  But God does.  I rest in that fact and that there will be rays of sunshine ahead......

From an ecstasy standpoint came news today of several Homecoming dates.  A release from the Iowa National Guard follows:

"Community Homecoming Ceremonies for three Iowa Army National Guard units mobilized as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, will be held on Thursday, July 14 in Cedar Rapids, Boone, and Johnston. Local officials and Iowa National Guard leadership will participate and the public and media are welcome and encouraged to attend these homecoming ceremonies. Here are the units and details:

Cedar Rapids-11:30 a.m., Prairie Point Middle School gym, 401 76th Ave. SW
Company C, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa Army National Guard (approximately 50 Soldiers)

Johnston-12:30 p.m., Johnston High School gym, 6501 NW 62nd Ave.
Company B, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa Army National Guard (approximately 50 Soldiers)

Boone-1 p.m., Boone High School gym, 500 7th St.
Selected Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa Army National Guard (approximately 85 Soldiers). Additional Soldiers from this company will return later in July-date and time to be determined".

The celebrations that are listed above will be full of tears and hugs and an outpouring of love.....and one of relief.   But, not all have been so fortunate. To date, we have lost 8 soldiers since our National Guardsmen deployed last summer.  We experienced all sorts of emotions, but none more truthful than agony and ecstasy.  But know this, through it all, God has been with us...




  1. Very well said John. I appreciate your insight and way with words. I describe this past year as a "mulligan". Just like the golf shot that you forget and take another shot at the ball. This has been probably the most memorable year of my life, but also one I would like to take as a "mulligan".

    The separation of Jordan & Jacob from my family has been difficult, but the separation has also made us all closer as a family.

    I feel blessed to have both my sons coming home healthy. My heart goes out to those who won't have their soldier coming home with the rest of their battle buddies.

  2. I echo your sentiments...memorable to say the least!!