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Monday, Oct. 5, 2015

Guard call-ups begin to impact SL

Thursday, October 4, 2001

SL, Alta lose police officers to military call, families take pride in patriotism.

The nation's citizen soldiers are answering the "call to the colors" following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and several local residents have been called to active duty.

Many members of the National Guard and Reservists found themselves on stand-by immediately following the terrorist attacks. Within the past week many have been called to active duty to assist with domestic security issues.

Chris Raveling, an officer with the Storm Lake Police Department, was called to active duty with the 185th Fighter Wing of Sioux City on Tuesday, and the previous week another police officer in Alta, David Freese, was called to active duty with the 4249th Military Police Company, Port Security, based in Pocahontas.

The company Freese is with will secure a military shipping terminal on the east coast. When the initial call for volunteers was issued Sept. 13, the Pocahontas reserve unit had 42 soldiers step forward within 18 hours. When the mobile order was issued this past weekend, every member was checked in within 48 hours.

"Whenever there has been a call to the colors, this unit responded," said. Col. Michael Cheek, deputy chief of staff operations with the 89th Regional Support Command of Wichita, Kan. "It shows this unit's spirit. It's the heartland of America at its best."

However, many families can find the adjustment to active duty difficult - both for those staying behind and for those called to duty.

David Freese and his wife, Kate, have three children at home - the oldest is seven and the youngest is six months. Kate knows her husband is troubled by the prospect of being away from the youngest for up to two years.

"It's harder on our soldiers - they're the ones who are away from their families, away from their jobs, and away from their communities," she said. "You can probably imagine with three small children the impact is huge."

While her husband may worry about being away, Kate is proud of his willingness to serve the country.

"I'm proud of him. He did not go into Army Reserves because he had to - he did because he wanted to," she said. "I'm proud of him for doing the job that not a lot of people are willing to do."

The new dean of business at Buena Vista University knows the feeling of being called up to active duty - he always has a "fly-away" kit ready as a colonel in the Air Force Reserves. Col. Houston Polson said at times like this, people recognize the citizen soldier and his or her role in the United States.

"Very few people, especially in Storm Lake, know someone on active duty, but if you look around here, how many people know a Reservist? How many people know a Guardsman?" Polson asked.

"It's starting to hit home - people have next door neighbors who are starting to be called out. When that happens, people get behind you. They're saying, 'I'm supporting my next door neighbor in addition to supporting the United States.'"

Under the control of the federal government, there are numerous roles Reservists play. While Freese will be part of a port security detail along the eastern sea board, Polson serves in more of a background role as the Air Force Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer in the state of Iowa.

"I know the resources the Air Force has in Iowa and, if required, can get those resources or resources anywhere else in the nation in the event of a disaster either natural or manmade," Polson said.

"When the Twin Towers first went down, we had people in route within an hour," he said. "It's the kind of disaster where the local authorities are overwhelmed and don't have resources to handle thing, therefore start asking for federal assistance."

The Air Force emergency preparedness unit works with FEMA and other agencies to help deliver assistance. Polson also works with local emergency management authorities.

"My job is much more of the homeland defense than perhaps some of the other folks," he said. "Here in the event of a problem my job is consequence management and how do we mitigate those and work around those problems."

Other families, like the Freeses, see a much more direct impact. It's an adjustment, Kate said, from not only having her husband home, but to picking up many of the household responsibilities he cared for.

But with their families in Aurelia and Storm Lake, Kate said assistance is wonderful, adding the community of Alta and her day care provider there have been supportive. "I have a lot of good people I can count on for support," she said.

This isn't the first time the two have been separated. David was also a member the Reserves during Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Because of the need for port security, the Pocahontas-based company is generally one of the first called up.

Having him called up for active duty is different, though, this time, Kate noted, with three children at home.

They talk over the phone once a week and correspond through mail. Kate hopes her husband's unit will settle down enough to allow a visit over the holidays.

"Also, we're finding creative ways for him to stay connected at home," she said. "He plans on recording a children's story on tape for our youngest so we can play it at home."

Kate said she is proud of her husband, who signed his re-enlistment papers the Sunday before Sept. 11. "He's my hero," she said.

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