Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 12, 2004

Brother of LP man is on crew for Howitzer cannons in Iraq

By Lynda Jensen

The brother of a Lester Prairie man is stationed as a Howitzer cannon crew member and gunner in Kirkuk, Iraq, trying to keep this country stable.

And keeping Iraq stable ain’t easy, as testified by Army Sgt. Tony Arneson, brother of Maynard Arneson of Lester Prairie.

Arneson is a member of the 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment based in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

His battalion is working door-to-door and face-to-face with the people of Kirkuk as a local police force, while providing protection for the city in the form of Howitzer cannons.

“I’m a cannon crew member. I put artillery fire on enemy positions to help protect my fellow soldiers,” Arneson said.

“I also patrol the streets of Kirkuk and its surrounding areas to ensure the safety of our troops and the Iraqi citizens who strive for peace.”

Peace – if successful – is something that will put an end to 40 years of oppression for the people of Iraq.

Arneson’s unit is charged with keeping the peace and protecting the lives, property and freedoms of Iraqi residents of Kirkuk and its surrounding communities.

Kirkuk is located in the northern portion of the country, and the focal point of Iraq’s oil industry.

This area is considered a cultural hotbed because of the population mix of Turkomans, Kurds, and Arabs.

Where once Iraqi soldiers roamed the streets, the city is now swamped with families strolling up and down the avenues. The once ever-present tanks that rolled down the streets have been replaced by cars, taxis and children playing, Arneson noted.

Despite the new atmosphere, Arneson knows that many dangers still exist and understands the relevance of the mission in Kirkuk.

“I have to step back and look at the larger picture in order to put my job into perspective,” he said.

“If my unit wasn’t up here, the Iraqi people would have no support from those who wish to do them harm or oppress them.”

Although the transition from war to peace represents a safer, calmer and freer Iraq, Arneson knows that for the Iraqis who desire peace and for the American soldiers protecting them, there is still much work ahead.

The intensity of the mission has this soldier looking forward to returning to the simpler things from life back at home.

“I want my family and friends to know that I love and miss them very much – I can’t wait to see them all again,” he said. “The first thing I’m going to do when I get home is hold my baby girl – she’s expected to be born in June.”

Arneson is proud of his transition from war fighter to peacekeeper, and he vows to do whatever is necessary to maintain stability in this region and give the Iraqis the chance to create a free society for themselves.

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