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Minnesota National Guard
Man of the house at 13 years old

by Forrest Adams, fadams@swpubcom

Dave Hatteberg and his son, Peter, outside their Chanhassen home

Peter Hatteberg is only 14 years old, but the incoming Chanhassen High School student, who wants to be an Army Ranger when he grows up, already knows precisely what it feels like to be the “man of the house”

Last year his father, Dave, deployed with the Army National Guard to Basra, Iraq, for a six-month tour of duty (July 2009 to February 2010)

On the Fourth of July, Peter will join about 10 other children of parents who have been deployed as they walk in the Chanhassen Fourth of July parade as members of the Junior Honor Guard on behalf of American Legion Post 580

Ron Schlangen, Post 580 commander, said the parade is open to kids whose parents were previously deployed, are currently deployed, and will be deployed at some point in the future It’s the first time Post 580 has done such a thing, and Schlangen hopes it will expand from here

“We’re doing this so the children and their parents will know they are not alone,” he said “These people will not feel alone We want to touch their families We are here to support them We’d like to see this expand to other cities in Minnesota and eventually nationwide”

Post 580 plans to reward “children of deployed parents” with a T-shirt, bag of candy (so they don’t try to pick up candy when they’re walking in the parade), a mini American flag to carry in the parade and a military-style dog tag, among other things Schlangen is also working with a local Mediacom video technician to create a DVD of the event and the kids that can be sent abroad to currently deployed parents


Peter said he wants to walk in the Fourth of July parade to show “support for my country and for veterans”

Dave said his involvement in the parade is TBD, but as a general principal he’s all for raising community awareness and support for children whose parents are fighting overseas

“I think a deployment can be tough on a whole family, but I think it’s toughest on the kids Anything we can do to support the kids and help them know what it’s about is good I think something like this is important for kids in helping their processing and feeling comfortable with what their parent is doing,” he said

Dave Hatteberg joined the Army National Guard on June 5, 1981 He spent 12 years in the infantry before taking time off to complete law school Looking back at all his years of service, Hatteberg said he’s got “25 good years” in the Guard but surprisingly never deployed until last year, when as a 47-years-old attorney served in Iraq heading up detention operations for high-risk detainees and assisting the Iraqis with their judiciary system

Hatteberg, who during his career has helped hundreds of other soldiers prepare their legal matters prior to deployment, described his own first deployment as a time of “mixed emotions”

“You’re very nervous, but at the same time you’re excited Then you get there, and you’re on the other side of the world It can be challenging staying in touch You’re worried about everybody back home You’re so used to being here with the family and able to contribute,” he said

Dad wasn’t home, so Peter stepped up and took over responsibilities around the house, he said Admittedly, Peter was going through his own array of emotions

“It was different I was sad, but at the same time I was proud that he was fighting for our country and putting his life in harm’s way I felt like the man of the house I tried to be more responsible and clean up more,” he said

“It felt unusual to have you gone every day,” he looked at Dad “I knew it was dangerous I was scared, but he’s my dad He’s invincible I was scared, but I felt that he would be safe”


Schlangen said Post 580 is still taking registrations from children of deployed parents to be in the parade Right now the age range of children walking is 2 years old to 20 Registration can be done through Fourth of July tab at http://wwwchanlegionorg/

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