(photo by Nancy Hohbach)
Aurelia residents Sergeant E 5 Louie DeRoos, Private First Class Brian Skou and Specialist Tanner Johnson are preparing to serve a tour of duty in Iraq. The trio will be departing from Storm Lake High School at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday. They are aware of the risks and are prepared as they can be. The most difficult moment for them will be when they have to turn and step away from their family members
DeRoos, 33, is the son of Les and Carolyn DeRoos of Alta. He and his wife Sherry have three children who are 8, 5 and 3 years old. DeRoos joined the National Guard when he was a high school junior, 16 years ago. His job is a federal technician and he considers himself a professional soldier. This will be his second tour of duty. The first tour was completed in the U.S. when the unit served as security for a guard facility under operation Enduring Freedom and Noble Freedom.
Tanner Johnson, 25, is son of Dave and Sue Johnson of Aurelia. Come this November, he will have served the guard eight years. He is a collision repair tech and this is his second tour of duty.
Brian Skou, 18, is son of Donnie and Connie Skou of Aurelia. He had been preparing to attend college this fall. He said he is ready to go to serve his country.
"I am the guy who talked both of these guys into joining the guard. We are good friends and know each other as well as you could know anyone. We look out for each other. We are proud to serve our country," smiled DeRoos.
They clarified that they are being detached from their local unit (Storm Lake) to serve with fellow guardsmen around Iowa to form this group to participate in Iraq Freedom. A large portion of the group is coming out of Fort Dodge.
Skou noted, "We always find out the details on the news before we hear it in person. We know we'll have a few weeks training in the U.S. before departing. Tanner and Louie will no doubt be vehicle repair and maintenance. I may be walking or riding through the streets to help keep the peace once I'm there."
DeRoos added, "There are many Iowans getting called up because they know Iowa units are ready to go. We've had excellent training and are up to snuff plus we have a good work ethic. I would much rather fight in their yard than have a war over here. We want to save America from terrorists. Everyone we do away with there, is one less terrorist to worry about over here."
The trio has been given information what to pack to take with them. They were quick to point out they will take every item which has been issued to them along with personal items.
"We would like to take a lap-top computer and a digital camera. It would be great for communicating. We know foot powder and items to keep us dry will come in handy. We've been made aware of temperature and blowing sand," said DeRoos.
The Aurelia community honored all three with a potluck meal last Sunday furnished by HyVee, Chesterman, Tyson and local churches. The whole community was invited and most showed up.
"We felt they cared about us and many offered to help our families out. One guy offered to move any snow during the winter months so I won't have to give that any thought while I'm gone. It's a wonderful feeling knowing they will be looking out for my family. In order to do my job well, I need to focus on that through the day but at night, my thoughts drift back to my family and it will help knowing they have the support of the whole community," said DeRoos.
When this tour is done, Skou plans on going to college. Johnson plans on serving six years which makes a total of 14. He just may end up doing 20 years. DeRoos is in it until he retires.
The three are hoping to have a huge party upon their return from this tour and hope they will remain close together while serving their country.