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Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California November 1, 2006

Welcome home soldiers

By Liz Bowen, Pioneer Press Assistant Editor 

SCOTT VALLEY – Whether they agree with the wars and combat, many Americans now realize the importance of giving honor to our military soldiers.

To that end, two local soldiers received a hero’s welcome when they flew home from fighting in Iraq this year. One was a captain and one a private, but both felt the appreciation of their service from family as well as strangers after year-long missions.

Jason Brown, 30, is a 1994 valedictorian of his Etna High School class, who earned an appointment to West Point and has since graduated making the Army his career. Down the ladder a bit is 2002 Etna High grad, Pam Grenvik, 22, who enlisted and is a private.

It may seem ironic that it was the veterans of Vietnam and Cambodia, who sponsored a huge celebration last spring. Thousands showed up to say “thank you” to the returning 11th Armored Cavalry.

Decades ago, few Vietnam or Cambodia or even Korean veterans were honored as they returned from conflict and fighting. So maybe it is that lack of appreciation that spurs veterans, family and total strangers to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Michael Wresch is just one such Vietnam veteran. He was a corporal in the 11th Armored Cavalry and saw fighting in Vietnam. When his Black Horse Regiment Association joined with another group called the 11th Armored Cavalry Veterans of Vietnam and Cambodia to throw a celebration last March, he had to attend. The 11th Armored Cavalry was scheduled to return to Fort Erwin, so Michael and his wife, Karen, drove from Scott Valley to the bottom of the state to salute the younger generation of the Black Horse Regiment. There they met Capt. Brown and embraced him as a fellow war veteran.

But Jason’s wife, Ariel, and one-year old daughter, Elina, were the first to gather this Army captain in their arms.

When visiting his parents, Alisa and Bob Brown in Etna the next month, Jason talked with the Pioneer Press. He wouldn’t make political statements, but was willing to share his perspective.

“Our job is to create an environment that will allow them to police their own ranks,” said Capt. Brown.

“We were very successful in doing that. And to give areas of the city back to them,” he added.

Those under his command patrolled and provided surveillance to prevent attacks in the area near the Western Baghdad prison. For this Army leader, much of his concern was for the children – to help them learn how to maintain hard-fought-for freedoms.

Ultimately, Jason said he is not a hero. “I didn’t shoot the bad guys,” he points out. But he did serve in dangerous war-torn Baghdad and it was a fearful situation for his family.

Jason was impressed with all the support given to him, especially the appreciation offered by veterans and “little old ladies” he met in airports.

He has since received a command at Fort Huachuca in Arizona and has moved his family there.

Private First Class Pam Grenvik, flew back to U.S. of A. soil in August to Fort Campbell Kentucky. Her parents, Tim and Lynn Grenvik along with son, Tyler, were in attendance as the soldiers filed off the huge aircraft. Tingles and sighs of relief brought tears to family, friends and well-wishers who crowded close to the fence to catch a glimpse of their loved ones.

Private Pam enlisted for the four years of active duty after a year of college. She became a petroleum supply specialist and did a stint driving fuel supply truck to those in combat in Iraq. She also received the Army Commendation medal for doing a thorough job of guard duty searching vehicles for contraband and explosives.

Pam seemed to accept the heavy motoring and shooting as part of her job, but was a bit frustrated that she had to wear the same color clothes everyday. Now that she is back in the states, there are weekends where she can obtain a leave and wear “normal” clothes.

Pam has been assigned to the 101Airborne Division also called “Screaming Eagles.”

As a post script note: Pam’s brother, Tyler Grenvik, entered the U.S. Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Ill. on Oct. 4 and will soon begin training as a firefighter in charge of damage control.

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