A soldier from the start“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” An Osakis graduate answered that call not once, not twice, but three times.
By: By Greta Petrich, Staff Reporter, Alexandria Echo Press
“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
An Osakis graduate answered that call not once, not twice, but three times.
Nick Krebsbach, 25, went to Afghanistan and Iraq with the Marine Corps and then returned to Iraq as a member of the National Guard.
He was welcomed home with a big ceremony October 12 at Camp Ripley, a big surprise for the man who twice came home quietly from the Marines.
The day was filled with mixed emotions for the young man who, so far, has dedicated his adult life to the military.
“You feel great for what you’ve done, you breathe a sigh of relief that it’s finally over and then you think about your [military] family,” he said.
A soldier from the start
Krebsbach joined the Marine Corps after graduating from Osakis High School in 2002.
He trained as a combat engineer to work in demolition and infantry.
His first deployment sent the young man to Afghanistan in 2004 as part of the Marine Expedition Unit (MEU). He returned home in 2005 and about four months later received orders for his second deployment – this time to Iraq.
The MEU traveled by ship to Spain, Kuwait and then Iraq.
Following their service in Iraq, his unit stopped at some ports in France and Italy to adjust and unravel before returning to the United States.
He came home to Osakis in July of 2006, after completing his four years of active duty for the Marine Corps.
After a few months home, Krebsbach re-upped to the Army National Guard in October of that year.
After surviving two tours in the war, what would possess a young man to sign up again, knowing another deployment was just around the corner?
According to Krebsbach, a lot of his buddies had been called and notified they’d been reactivated for duty.
He explained the military works in a four by four system – four years active duty followed by four years inactive time. Except inactive can be reactivated if necessary.
“I came to the conclusion it was better to sign up for the guards than take care of inactive reserve,” he said.
Krebsbach received his activation orders in July of 2007 – just one year after returning from Iraq.
This time, he said, he was fortunate enough to get assigned to the 851st Vertical Engineer Company.
“Instead of blowing things up, we got to build things,” he explained.
He reported for duty at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin for a couple of months of training and then on to Baghdad.
While he was deployed to a war zone, Krebsbach said it was a lot more like a vacation than the previous tours.
“We actually got to help the soldiers by building better living quarters, shower facilities and places to hang out,” he said. “We also built things for the Iraqi soldiers. It was a good experience and a fun time.”
He explained that on his first mission in Iraq, the people didn’t want them there. While the Iraqis came around after they realized the American soldiers were there to help them, it was always a tense situation, according to Krebsbach.
During the second tour he could actually trust the Iraq Army and Iraqi police a little more.
“It was really interesting to see the change,” he said. “At first they didn’t trust us and we didn’t trust them, then when I came back we were able to work with them.”
Through his two tours in Iraq, Krebsbach said he pretty much covered the entire country, starting in the south by the Tigris River and ending by the Euphrates River.
From soldier to student
Today, Krebsbach puts his training to work as a student in the carpentry program at Alexandria Technical College.
While he learned a lot in the military, he said building is much different here.
The goal in Iraq, he said, is to build it fast and efficient.
In fact, the 851st holds the record for the most living quarters built in one year and the most building material used in one year.
When asked about codes, he answered, “What codes?”
He said instead of filling walls with insulation, their top priority is putting in air conditioners.
He also noted poured cement footings are unheard of in the desert where they use 2 by 6s and plywood.
Home at last
He may be home with his family, but Krebsbach thinks of his military family often.
He said he misses the people, the camaraderies with his fellow marines and soldiers.
“All in all it’s a family,” he said. “It’s a bond no one can touch.
He also enjoys stopping by the Osakis VFW to visit with the veterans at least once a week.
Along with his brother, Matt, these men understand and relate to his experiences, making it easy to talk.
One subject he remains firm on is the need for the military to remain in Iraq, although he has ideas about new ways to handle things.
“We definitely are making a big difference, although it’s nowhere close to being done,” he said. “We could be spending more time training their soldiers and let them have the front line.”
He doesn’t believe the military should pull out completely, yet thinks it might be a good idea to limit the number of American soldiers and military personnel there.
For example, currently there is a military base every 50 to 100 miles.
“There could possibly be fewer bases, he said. “At the same time, I believe our presence is vital. We definitely need to remind them we are still there.”