Friday, March 06, 2009

Army Spc. Patrick E. Welsh

Remember Our Heroes

Spec. Patrick Welsh was anything but the stereotypical macho cop while serving as a military police officer in Iraq.

“Welshey was probably the most laid-back guy in the squad,” Staff Sgt. Anthony Gravseth, Welsh’s squad leader, said Monday. “Nothing bothered him. He just did his thing. You gave him a task and he completed it. No complaints. He was Mr. Dependable.”

Welsh, a 24-year-old Grand Forks resident, died Friday in a one-car rollover accident along I-29 about 15 miles north of Fargo.

His death came just two months after he and about 100 soldiers from the North Dakota Army National Guard’s 191st Military Police Company returned to the state after serving in Iraq for a year.

“He was looking forward to coming home. He wanted to spend some time with his baby girl. He wanted to provide the best possible life for her,” said Gravseth, who lives in Bismarck.

Most of his fellow soldiers didn’t know his daughter, Arista, by name. But they knew of her.

“He talked about her a lot,” Gravseth said. “He always called her ‘baby girl.’”

The 191st MP Company is based in Fargo with detachments in Mayville and Bismarck, although its members come from 40 different cities.

The 191st received its mobilization order in October 2007 and began active duty in January 2008. In its year in Iraq to perform military police, security and maneuver support operations, the company completed almost 1,300 missions and traveled more than 120,000 miles.

Among the company’s accomplishments were assisting in 74 detainee releases and training 346 Iraqi police in a rigorous, 15-day training program that incorporated weapons training, Iraqi law, police tactics and physical training.

Welsh’s squad was assigned to what were called pit missions, serving as a police transition team for the Iraqi police, Gravseth said.

“Welshey and the rest of our guys who were gunners and drivers held a very important mission — security and transportation between the base and the police department in Baghdad,” Gravseth said. “All the other gunners leaned on Welshey.”

Upon his return to the United States in January, Welsh was quoted in an article in the Herald: “I am looking forward to seeing my daughter, family and friends,” he said. “I am also looking forward to going back to college and earning my degree.”

He was studying criminal justice at UND when he was deployed.

“The largest change I have seen in Baghdad from start to finish is the Iraqi Security Forces are doing an excellent job on providing better security,” he said in that article.

Welsh graduated from Red River High School in 2003. He joined the North Dakota National Guard in 2005 and was assigned to a Combat Engineering Unit in Carrington, N.D. He later volunteered to become part of the 191st MP Company.

“He was one of those guys who was always in a good mood. He was a hell of a soldier,” said Spec. Nick Johansen, Fargo, who served with Welsh in Iraq.

Johansen, who plans to study criminal justice at North Dakota State University, has four years left to serve in the National Guard. He learned about the accident Saturday.

“It wasn’t something I wanted to hear,” he said. “He was like all the rest of us. Everybody’s always talking about what they want to do when they got home. Now, he won’t get that chance.”

Specialist Patrick E. Welsh, 24, Grand Forks, ND beloved father, son & brother, died March 6, 2009, as the result of a tragic car accident.

Patrick Edward Welsh was born November 15, 1984 the son of Michael and Stacy (Greendahl) Welsh in Grand Forks. He attended Viking Elementary School, Schroeder Middle School, Red River High School and graduated in 2003. He joined the North Dakota National Guard in 2005 and was assigned to the Combat Engineering Unit in Carrington, ND. He volunteered with the 191st Military Police Company of Mayville, ND and was deployed to Iraq, January 2008 thru January 2009. During his deployment, he was awarded the combat action badge for direct participation in combat operations.

Patrick will be remembered most for proudly serving his country and his love and devotion to his daughter, Arista. He will be dearly missed by his family and friends.

He is survived by, his daughter, Arista Welsh, Grand Forks, ND and Arista’s mother Charlene Two Bulls; parents, Michael and Stacy Welsh, Grand Forks, ND; brothers Jason, WI, Justin, Grand Forks, ND Brandon (Ericka)Omaha, NE, Brody (fiancee, Amanda Hoffman), Ft. Drum, NY; sisters, Katie Welsh (fiancé, Dick Rothenberger), Grand Forks, ND, Piper Welsh, Grand Forks, ND; nephews, Brady Moncada, Bradin Welsh; grandparents, Myrle Welsh, Austin, MN, Marlys Greendahl, Fargo, ND; many aunts, uncles and cousins; special friend, Kelly Keomany.

He was preceded in death by his grandfather, William Greendahl and grandmother, Patricia Welsh.

Mass of Christian Burial: 10:00 a.m. Thursday, March 12, 2009 in St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Grand Forks, ND.

Visitation: 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Wednesday with a 7:00 p.m. vigil service and 4:30 p.m. rosary service in the Gregory J. Norman Funeral Chapel. Visitation will continue one hour prior to the liturgy in the church on Thursday.

Burial: Calvary Cemetery, Grand Forks, ND in the spring.

Military Honors: Members of the American Legion Post 157; Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3817 and North Dakota National Guard.

Army Spc. Patrick E. Welsh died as the result of a tragic car accident on 3/6/09.

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