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Minnesota National Guard
1,000 attend Dent Soldiers Funeral Saturday

The sentries stood unmoving at either end of the flag-covered casket at the foot of the altar, their black-beret heads bowed and white-gloved hands folded left over right in front of them Each wore the blue cord of the infantry on the right shoulder of their green dress uniforms

Nearly 1,000 mourners filed quietly into the gymnasium-turned-chapel at Pelican Rapids High School Saturday morning to attend the funeral service for Staff Sgt Joshua R Hanson, killed in action by an Improvised Explosive Device near Ramadi, Iraq 10 days before He was 27 years old

A resident of rural Dent, he had joined the National Guard at 17, during his junior year at Pelican Rapids High School He graduated in 1998, and in 2005, graduated from Minnesota State University, Moorhead, with a criminal justice degree His goal was to become a deputy sheriff for Otter Tail County He served with the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry in Bosnia and Iraq

Among the Soldiers were men in Navy dress black and white, and Air Force blue The VFW and American Legion color guard were there in white ribboned blouses, and outside, more than a hundred members of the Patriot Guard Riders lined the sidewalks, each bearing the nation's colors

Near the altar, two large portraits of the Hanson stood on easels, and to the left, his camouflaged helmet sat atop the butt of his upturned rifle

Josh's family and friends filed in, taking their seats in the front row to the right, while Gov Tim Pawlenty, Maj. Gen. Rick Erlandson, commander of the 34th Infantry Division, and Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito, adjutant general for the state of Minnesota, all sat on the left

The flag was withdrawn from the coffin and folded in the formally slow manner of the military It would be presented later to the family

The Catholic service was simple and reverent, interspersed with guitar and choir music Scripture was quoted by some, and memories of Joshua shared by others Bishop John Kinney led the service with the Revs Arlie Sowada and Richard Walz

Lt. Col. Timothy Peterson of the 34th Infantry Division announced President Bush had awarded Hanson the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, and the Secretary of the Army had awarded him the Good Conduct Medal, the Operation Iraqi Freedom campaign medal and the Global War on Terrorism medal Afterwards, Hanson's mother was presented the gold star banner, signifying the family's sacrifice

Catholic communion was held, and the two-hour service ended shortly thereafter when, with military precision, Minnesota National Guard Soldiers bore the casket slowly to the white hearse outside as the family and friends followed behind

The Soldier was laid to rest at Ringsaker Cemetery in Pelican Rapids

By Matt Bewley, Fergus Falls Daily Journal
Source: www.fergusfallsjournal.com

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