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Army Spc. Michael L. Hermanson

Died May 23, 2006 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

21, of Fargo, N.D.; assigned to the 164th Engineer Battalion, North Dakota Army National Guard, Minot, N.D.; died May 23 of injuries sustained when his RG-31 Mine Protected Vehicle came under attack from an improvised explosive device, a rocket-propelled grenade and enemy small-arms fire while on a route-clearing mission during combat operations in Abayachi, Iraq.

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N.D. guardsman killed by RPG in Iraq

By Dave Kolpack

The Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. — A North Dakota National Guard soldier was killed in Iraq when his vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, military officials said. Spc. Michael Hermanson, of Fargo, was serving with Company A of the Minot-based 164th Engineer Combat Battalion.

Hermanson, 21, died at about 2 p.m. CDT — 11 p.m. Iraq time — on Tuesday, while his unit was on patrol clearing roadside bombs south of Balad, Guard spokesman Rob Keller said. Balad is about 50 miles north of Baghdad.

“All of us in the National Guard are deeply saddened at the loss of this great soldier,” Maj. Gen. Michael Haugen, the state Guard commander, said in a statement Wednesday. “Spc. Hermanson edified the volunteer spirit prevalent in the North Dakota National Guard.”

Maj. Jason Steckler, commander of Company A, said Hermanson’s 3rd Platoon honored him as his remains were loaded on an aircraft for the flight back to the United States.

The Guard said Hermanson’s parents, Layne and Scharlotta, did not wish to speak to reporters Wednesday night.

Hermanson, who was single, has a sister, Lindsey, of Fargo. The 2002 Fargo North graduate attended North Dakota State University for two semesters before and after his military training.

He enlisted in the Guard in 2002. After basic training, he was assigned to Headquarters Support Company of the 142nd Engineer Combat Battalion in Fargo as a technical engineer, the Guard said.

Fargo North principal Andy Dahlen said Hermanson was interested in art, and never got into trouble in school.

“He was someone who did his thing and stayed out of the office,” Dahlen said.

Lindsey Hermanson is attending Fargo North, and was in school for a while Wednesday because she was worried about her final tests, Dahlen said. The school has waived those tests, he said.

“When you lose a brother or a son, you’re obviously distraught over it,” Dahlen said. “It’s especially difficult with Memorial Day around the corner.”

Hermanson was the 12th U.S. service member from North Dakota or serving with a North Dakota military unit to be reported killed while on duty in Iraq. He was the eighth Guard soldier to be killed.

Keller said the 164th Engineer Combat Battalion’s Company A has 122 soldiers from 44 North Dakota cities. Two other soldiers live in Minnesota and one lives in North Carolina, he said. Fifty of the soldiers, including Hermanson, volunteered.

“It’s a widespread unit,” Keller said.

The company was mobilized Aug. 5, 2005, and arrived in Iraq in mid-November of that year. The main duty of the soldiers was to clear roadside bombs.

Keller said no other soldiers “that we are aware of” were injured in Tuesday’s attack.

Hermanson’s immediate family was notified Tuesday, Keller said. Family members of all the 122 soldiers in the unit were being notified Wednesday, he said.

“He made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, and as this Memorial Day approaches, we pledge never to forget his courage or his selflessness,” Gov. John Hoeven said in a statement.

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