Yellow Ribbon offers open arms, breakfast to Guard unit

Pvt. E-2 Micah Grafsgaard has found it harder to get home to Moorhead
lately, but he doesn’t mind. Grafsgaard, who is studying business at
North Central University in Minneapolis, credits the Army National Guard
for teaching him to live independently and stay focused wherever he
goes.


Luke Reiter
luke.reiter@ecm-inc.com

Pvt. E-2 Micah Grafsgaard has found it harder to get home to Moorhead lately, but he doesn’t mind. Grafsgaard, who is studying business at North Central University in Minneapolis, credits the Army National Guard for teaching him to live independently and stay focused wherever he goes. Still, Grafsgaard admits, it’s always tough heading off to new locations filled with unfamiliar faces.

While Grafsgaard’s future assignments––including possibly his first deployment—are uncertain, members of Isanti County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Task Force are hoping that he and the rest of the National Guard 850th Horizontal Engineer Company will now know a few familiar faces while they’re in this location.

Pictured: Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer chats with members of the 850th HEC over breakfast at the Armed Forces Reserve and Community Center on Saturday, Feb. 12. (Photo by Luke Reiter)

That was the inspiration behind a breakfast held on Saturday, Feb. 12 at the Armed Forces Reserve and Community Center in Cambridge, where the 850th HEC trains. BTYR members, as well as Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer, State Representative Kurt Daudt and State Senator Sean Nienow, sat down to eat and talk with the men and woman of the company.

The Isanti Lions Club was also on hand preparing food for the event, and members of the Polaris Battalion, a Navy program for high school students, assisted with facility set-up and clearing tables for the troops.

After the breakfast, the Polaris Battalion experienced their first taste of military training alongside the 850th HEC.

“The City of Cambridge is certainly here for you,” Mayor Palmer assured the company during a brief speech.

The 850th “Renegade” Company, part of the 682nd Engineer Battalion, was reorganized in 2006 out of a military police company that was based in Cottage Grove and served during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The unit is trained to repair and maintain air and ground lines of communication, clear sites and haul materials.

The 850th HEC, along with the Army Reserve unit based at the AFRCC, was officially adopted by Isanti County Beyond The Yellow Ribbon in early 2009. BTYR is a non-profit organization that seeks to support military men and women and their families through all stages of service.

After the event unit commander Capt. Carrie Llano described the work of BTYR and the Isanti Lions as “phenomenal,” and she explained that such outreach is rare in her experience.

“A lot of communities don’t work with our soldiers whatsoever,” Llano said.

Pvt. Grafsgaard also expressed his appreciation for the organization’s efforts. Grafsgaard, who joined the unit about a year ago without knowing anyone, said that such events play a big role in making the soldiers feel comfortable and allowing them to focus.

“I think it’s pivotal to what we do,” Grafsgaard said.

According to County Commissioner Susan Morris, a BTYR member, the event also laid the foundation for future support for the 850th HEC from the organization, now that the two groups have had an opportunity to interact on a personal level.

“If and when they get deployed, there’s a human being behind every name,” Morris explained. “And we wanted to get to know the person behind the name.”

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