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Answering the call: Dickinson officer returns to Minnesota to deploy to Afghanistan

Tyrel Hanson

After being an officer for the Dickinson Police Department for four months, Tyrel Hanson headed home this week.

His trip back to Boyceville, Wis., was just a pit stop on a journey that will take him halfway across the world.

Tyrel is taking a year off and will be deployed to Afghanistan with 849th Mobility Augmentation Company, Minnesota National Guard for 10 months after two months of training at Fort Bliss in Texas.

"It will be boots on the ground in Afghanistan probably the first week in September," the 23-year-old said.

Tyrel attended Winona State University in Winona, Minn., graduating with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

In December 2008, the winter after he graduated from high school, Tyrel joined the Minnesota National Guard.

"It's kind of a family tradition," Tyrel said. "I joined for the whole family aspect."

His uncle was a Vietnam veteran and he has had several cousins join the military as well. Tyrel is the first to go into law enforcement.

This will be his first deployment in four-and-a-half years in the guard.

While in Afghanistan, Tyrel will be cleaning improvised explosive devices from along the road; clearing the way for the rest of the convoy and other transports.

"We basically find explosives, locate them and destroy them," Tyrel said.

His parents, Michele and Robert, were a little worried when their son moved 700 miles away to Dickinson.

"My entire family lives within a 10-mile radius," Tyrel said.

But his family was excited about the opportunity, both in Dickinson and in the National Guard.

"I'm glad he's serving his country, don't get me wrong, I worry," Michele said. "Just a typical mother, worried.

"I was more worried right at first because that's when things were more unsettled over there, but as time went on I felt more secure that he wouldn't (be deployed.)"

Hanson is a combat engineer with the National Guard, which has nothing to do with his day job.

"The two jobs have absolutely nothing to do with each other," Tyrel said. "I decided to go into my combat engineer because my cousin was a combat engineer and he went to Iraq and I kinda liked what he did."

Tyrel loves living in western North Dakota and was looking forward to pheasant hunting this fall, but is most disappointed that he will miss cheering on the Green Bay Packers for a whole season.

"My whole idea was to always move west," Tyrel said. "When I got the job in Dickinson, I was pretty excited about it."

He convinced his younger brother, Cody, to move to Dickinson. Cody works for the city's Public Works Department.

"Now both my children are there," Michele said. "I've been out there a couple of times and I like it. I guess I'm not ready to move out there."

The police department plans to hire a temporary replacement officer while Tyrel is gone, but that position will most likely be absorbed into the force as another officer retires or positions are added.

"Their spots are saved for them until they come back and they are welcomed back with open arms," Police Capt. Dave Wilkie said. "We'll be looking forward to him coming back."

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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