Perham choir director receives emotional send-off to duty in Iraq
The year-ending Pops Concert is always a sentimental event, especially for Perham-Dent High School seniors. But the 2007 spring vocal concert was particularly emotional, as students bid farewell to choir director Kevin Kosiak, who will be shippin...
The year-ending Pops Concert is always a sentimental event, especially for Perham-Dent High School seniors.
But the 2007 spring vocal concert was particularly emotional, as students bid farewell to choir director Kevin Kosiak, who will be shipping out to Iraq.
A North Dakota National Guardsman, Kosiak will be active duty starting June 4, and is expected to serve a full year--which means he won't be in Perham for the Class of 2008.
As a farewell gesture, students surprised Kosiak twice during the evening concert May 18. The concert is an annual highlight of the vocal program, and this year featured 33 different solo and group performances.
Midway through the concert, a uniformed National Guardsman and Perham resident, Sgt. Wayne Enger, walked out on stage and presented a surprised Kosiak with a "medal" on behalf of the 2006-2007 choir students.
"The seniors do something every year, sometimes it's a card, maybe candy, or a couple free coffees at the Wild Goose," said Kosiak. "When they gave me the medal, I thought it was wonderful...I was very happy."
Little did Kosiak know, the biggest surprise was yet to come.
At the end of the concert, students gathered on stage and presented him with an Epiphone Les Paul Custom guitar--autographed on the back by all the juniors and seniors. The students from both classes pooled their resources and bought the guitar.
"It was an unbelievable experience," said Kosiak, who was in tears as he accepted the gift from the students. "I woke up one night and thought it was a dream, but there was the guitar at my house."
"It is a beautiful instrument. I'm afraid to play it until I find a way to protect the autographs on the guitar," he added. "It's too nice to just look at--it needs to be played."
Sgt. Kosiak will be deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in June, first to Minot, North Dakota, and then to Shelby, Mississippi, before being transported to Iraq.
Kosiak is a member of the Guard's 188th Army Band, but he was assigned to the 164th Engineer Battalion of Minot, for the Iraq deployment. Though a member of the 188th band, he also has administrative training, which is what he assumes he will be doing when attached to the 164th.
"The 164th really is an amazing unit," said Kosiak. "I am very confident that we will do our job and take care of each other."
Kosiak teaches vocal music and guitar at Perham High School and Prairie Wind Middle School. He lives in Vergas with his wife Roberta. They have two children, Jessica and Danielle.
Kosiak has served in the North Dakota National Guard since 2003. He previously served in the Minnesota National Guard and the U.S. Air Force, for four years, until 1980. He was with the Guard until 1987. He was a civilian for 15 years before re-enlisting with the Army band unit in 2003--an unusually long inactive period.
The 164th will be sending more than 100 soldiers on the deployment. The unit expects to train in the United States during the summer and to move overseas to Iraq in the fall.
As far as next year's vocal program in the Perham-Dent schools, the school is advertising for a temporary replacement for Kosiak.