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Iraq-bound soldier: 'It's a huge deal'

Text messages and Facebook notifications lit up the phones of Sgt. Ben Wilson and friends who were attending his going away party Sunday night in downtown Brainerd.

Osama Bin Laden was dead. 

Wilson 28, a Brainerd High School graduate, had recently left his parents’ home (Dan and Lynn Wilson) where a going away party was conducted in preparation for his May 10 deployment to Kuwait and Iraq with the National Guard.

Wilson’s mom called him as he and friends carried on the festivities at the Liquor Pigz Sports Bar on Laurel Street. 

“It’s a huge deal,” he said. “It’s a big deal. It’s definitely a morale lift.”

Wilson, a member of the National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 94th Calvary, 34th Infantry Division — the Red Bulls ——  expects to eventually be providing convoy security in Iraq. He’ll report to Camp Ripley May 10, then travel to Fort McCoy, Wis.,  before being deployed to Kuwait and then Iraq.

At first, Wilson wasn’t sure if the news was accurate but he believed after checking CNN’s website. The soldier now lives in St. Paul. He works at Flying Cloud Airport where he refuels and services aircraft.

He said he had a little bit of apprehension about being deployed but was excited about being able to use his training.

Friends socialized and played games at the bar. In the background some televisions were tuned to sporting events and some were carrying the late-breaking news on the war in terrorism.

Also at the bar was Spec. Justin Doerfler, who served in Afghanistan for 10 1/2 months. Doerfler issued a cautionary warning.

“This is going to rejuvenate both sides,” he said. 

He posted a Facebook status that said “Mission accomplished” but said Sunday that, obviously, the mission would continue.

“I’ve been calling everyone in my unit,” Doerfler said. “It’s going to be huge. It’s going to be enormous.” 

Doerfler, who was in the news in February when he organized a rally to support a 53-year-old black man who had been assaulted in downtown Brainerd, said he thinks the war will continue longer even with the death of Al -Qaida’s leader. He listened to the president speech and was impressed. In particular, he liked Obama’s quotation of part of the Pledge of Allegiance.

“I think the president really just rejuvenated the American spirit,” Doerfler said.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at or 855-5860.