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Dent soldier killed in Iraq

East Otter Tail is mourning the death of a Minnesota National Guardsman who hoped to become an Otter Tail County deputy.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Robert Hanson, 27, of Dent, Minn., died near Khalidiyah, Iraq, on Aug. 30.

Hanson was assigned to the Minnesota Army National Guard's Company A, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, Detroit Lakes.

Hanson joined the National Guard between his junior and senior years at Pelican Rapids High School, where he played football and graduated in 1998. He was deployed to Bosnia from the summer of 2003 to the summer of 2004, said Lt. Col. Kevin Gutknecht, the rear detachment commander of the 1st of the 34th Brigade Combat Team.

As a Pelican Rapids graduate, Hanson was not well-known in the Perham area. But the Hanson family, including Josh and younger brother Jake, attended Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Dent; and they are known by many of the parishioners.

Hanson recently graduated with a degree in law enforcement from Minnesota State University, Moorhead.

Hanson was riding in a Humvee in Iraq Wednesday afternoon when an improvised explosive device detonated, rocking the vehicle and setting it ablaze. A half-dozen other soldiers tried to pull Hanson, who was sitting nearest the blast, to safety, but they were called off when it became too dangerous.

The 27-year-old from Dent, Minn., died immediately, a military official said from Iraq on Friday afternoon.

Six other soldiers from Alpha Company were wounded during the incident and returned to duty. In a separate incident, two additional soldiers from Alpha Company were wounded in an indirect mortar attack. They were treated and returned to duty. All eight wounded soldiers are expected to make a full recovery.

Military officials said Hanson was a team leader in charge of about three other soldiers and the 3-ton Humvee, which they said was armored and fitted with bullet-proof glass, during the explosion about noon Wednesday near Khalidiyah, Iraq. The soldiers were on combat patrol with Marines on a four-day offensive to capture and kill Iraqi insurgents, Zimmerman said at a news conference.

Company A, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, is a combat arms unit consisting of soldiers primarily from Detroit Lakes and Bemidji.

Members of Alpha Company mobilized with the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division in Fall of 2005. After six months of training in Camp Shelby, Mississippi, Alpha Company deployed to Iraq in March 2006.

"The loss of our brother, Staff Sgt. Joshua Hanson, is felt across the state of Minnesota," said Major General Larry Shellito, the Adjutant General of Minnesota, "It's our priority to assist the Hanson family during this difficult time. I ask that all Minnesotans take time to reflect in a moment of silence to honor this young hero."

The family requested that media inquiries be directed to the Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs Office, and asked that they not be contacted.

The family did, however, issue a statement.

"Josh was a wonderful and loving son and a great friend," it said. "He was proud to serve his country as duty called. ... Our solace is knowing that Josh died doing what he felt he needed to do."

A press conference was held Sept. 1 at the Detroit Lakes National Guard Armory.