Hudson Marine returns from IraqLance Cpl. Dan Stensgaard is enjoying a month of rest and relaxation following a seven-month tour in Iraq. The 20-year-old Hudson Marine returned to the United States on March 23.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
Lance Cpl. Dan Stensgaard is enjoying a month of rest and relaxation following a seven-month tour in Iraq.
The 20-year-old Hudson Marine returned to the United States on March 23. He’s staying with his parents, Randy and Cindy Stensgaard, until setting out April 27 on a cross-country road trip to his next duty post in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
His time in the Iraqi city of Hit, located in al-Anbar province, went better than he thought it might, the quiet Stensgaard said.
His 3rd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment had turned over most of the patrolling of the largely Sunni area to the Iraqi army.
“We still patrolled some,” Stensgaard said, “but the area was shrunk.”
There were a few attacks by insurgents, he said, but not as many as in previous years.
“We got a lot of them, but there are still some out there,” he said of the insurgents.
Stensgaard’s regiment shared a base with the Iraqi army and part of its job was to train the Iraqi soldiers.
“It was easy to tell that they are a new military force,” he said. “They aren’t as well-trained as we are. They’re still trying to figure that stuff out.”
Being a Marine is physically demanding, Stensgaard said. And being away from friends and family members for a long time also takes a toll emotionally.
Stensgaard said he enlisted in the Marines a week or two after graduating from Hudson High School in 2007. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to go to college, and serving his country is something he knew he wanted to do.
“If I’m going to go into the service, I might as well choose the best one,” he recalled of his decision to join the Marines.
His 3rd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment has the reputation of being one of the toughest, most-prepared combat units in the world, according to the Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia.
“They are highly trained for any combat mission and take great pride in their knowledge, skills and physical prowess. Their assault capabilities range widely from amphibious to helicopter-borne and land attack. They remain one of the highest decorated units in the Marine Corps,” the Wikipedia entry says.
The unit’s nickname is The Cutting Edge.
“Not much,” Stensgaard replied when asked what he’s been doing since his return to Hudson.
He’s enjoyed hanging out with old friends Jon Krusell and Sam Horsman, he volunteered.
In high school, he enjoyed working with computers and was a member of the swim team. He also raced a quarter midget car at a track in Elko, Minn., occasionally.
He’ll be driving his prized 1998 Chevy Camaro back to the Marine base at Twentynine Palms.
Stensgaard’s unit has been told to expect another deployment in seven to nine months. They’ve been told about a couple of places they might go, he said, but most of them expect it to be Afghanistan.
“I’m a little worried about that, because that’s a pretty kinetic environment,” he admitted.
Stensgaard’s father works for Andersen Corp. and his mother is a teacher at a Stillwater, Minn., daycare. His 19-year-old sister Kristine attends a university in the upper peninsula of Michigan.