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Back from Iraq

Minnesota National Guard Corporal Terry Frost, of New York Mills, with his wife Michelle and their children, Annika and Zachary. Frost has spent 20 years in the military, including four assignments overseas. Submitted photo1 / 2
Frost looks at the Hands of Victory monument in Baghdad. Sadam Hussein built the arch after the Iran-Iraq war. Submitted photo2 / 2

Minnesota National Guard Corporal Terry Frost recently returned home to New York Mills from his second deployment to the war in Iraq. This was his fourth time stationed overseas in his 20-year military career.

Frost's most recent assignment was also his longest - just one month shy of two years.

In an interview last week, Frost said he's been able to feel the pride that the NY Mills community has for its military members. It began before he even got home: on the car trip back to town from the airport, members of the NY Mills police and fire departments, Perham police department and Otter Tail County Sheriff's department surrounded his car and escorted him back, sirens blaring.

The support continued when, within a week of returning, Frost began the necessary retraining to get back on the schedule for the NY Mills and Perham police departments.

Coming home to his high school sweetheart Michelle and their kids Zachary, 14, and Annika, 11, feels great, Frost said. While overseas, he tried to keep in touch with his family through early morning phone calls and Skype, but, "I missed two whole years."

Frost noticed a lot of improvement in Iraq since his first deployment in 2006. For one thing, "Baghdad was a lot safer," he said.

A lot of positive things that the military does over there never make it into the headlines here, Frost said - such as all the school supplies and sports equipment they give to the children. It's those kinds of things that help Frost feel like the mission in Iraq accomplished something.

Yet sometimes the memories of war come home in ways that aren't so positive. After Frost's first assignment in Iraq, he was a little jumpy.

"I would always take a different way home," he said, adding that he seems to be doing better this time around.

Frost's last assignment in Iraq began with the mission of hauling supplies like food and fuel into camps, but as the war ended and U.S. military pulled out, he and his crew were switched over to 'long haul,' meaning he helped bring large equipment out of Iraq into neighboring Kuwait.

His first time in Iraq, though it was during the 'troop surge' in 2006, his duties revolved around ways to help scale down the U.S.'s presence. Though Frost did a lot of foot patrol and watched the Internet for large money transfers to possible militants, his main duty was training an Iraqi police force.

Frost and his group worked with the Iraqis for months on everything from weapons training to security measures, often relying on translators to communicate. The Iraqi police were sent to the scene of attacks, giving them the first opportunity to try and obtain peace and security within their country.

Frost said he hopes he doesn't have to go back to Iraq or Afghanistan. However, he is in the Minnesota National Guard until February 2013, and if he has to go, he has to go, he said.

Frost isn't sure if he is going to reenlist again, but as a rule he "enjoys military life."

Looking back, he admitted that, "This whole thing was probably harder for her (Michelle) than me."

But military life isn't new to Frost or his wife. Michelle joined the Air Force and Terry joined the Marines straight out of high school. When they completed their terms in 1996, they decided to stay out and raise a family in their hometown of NY Mills.

After 9-11, Terry began hinting to his wife that he wanted to reenlist in the Marines. She didn't want him to. In 2003, when the Iraq invasion hit the news, the conversation of reenlisting happened again in the Frost household. But with kids still young, Michelle really wanted their father around.

But Terry's urge eventually got the best of him. In Oct. 2005, he joined the Minnesota National Guard, without telling his wife.

She had told him she didn't want him reenlisting in the Marines, he said, and "this wasn't the Marines."

Back in his Marine days in the 1990s, Terry was based out of Sacramento and Japan. He trained on ships, did some drug investigations in the Santa Monica mountains and even brought back a championship title in Marine wrestling at the 1994 West Coast Regional.

He was sent overseas as a Marine then, too, but mostly on peace missions as the Gulf War ended.

Frost will continue with the National Guard one weekend a month and two weeks a year at Camp Ripley near Little Falls, Minn., where he is training as a sniper.