Gary Dahl

Mr. Dahl served in Operation Desert Storm and was stationed in Saudi Arabia.

He was assigned to the National Guard's 109th Light Equipment Maintenance Company.

Source: "Back From the Eye of the 'Storm': Wrenshall family celebrates soldier's return from the desert", Duluth News Tribune, July 4, 1991 (see below)

To Gary Dahl, 39, home and family are what it’s all about.

When he’s not at work, he’s at home: tuning up vehicles; sipping coffee with his wife; making outbuildings shipshape; playing basketball with the kids; hauling wood; trimming the vast family lawn; making Bowser’s doghouse more comfortable; clearing brush in the horse pasture between his home and his parents-in-law next door; fishing with his brother; helping out his parents at their home a mile away.

That’s why his stint in Saudi Arabia with the National Guard’s 109th Light Equipment Maintenance Company made such an impact in this small corner of the world. Folks missed him something awful.

“I still cry,” his wife, Linda, said Saturday at the family home. “I’ll be driving along and hear a song that reminds me of when he was gone, and I just start crying."

“Gosh, he looks good,” said his mother, Lorraine Dahl. “He looks real good.”

Gary Dahl was tan, muscular and very happy Saturday. As Linda and Kimberly scoured the family car in the driveway, Gary was in the open garage, surrounded by neatly arranged tools, preparing to polish imperceptible dust from his shining pickup. Ryan and Stephanie pulled a three-wheeler into the garage, filled its tires and merrily buzzed off down the road.

Bowser, the family dog, walked around being friendly.

Gary’s homecoming was just about perfect. Linda joined him for a week in Tomah, Wisconsin, where his plane came in. Children, parents, brother and others met him when the 109th arrived at the Duluth Armory.

When he got home, Gary had a beer and polished his truck, just as his wife had predicted a month earlier.

The following days were filled with visiting and attending welcome-home celebrations, and then Gary, son Ryan and other male family members took off on their annual fishing expedition to Canada.

The welcome home continued when Gary and other returning soldiers went back to work at ME International, a foundry in Gary-New Duluth. They were met with balloons, banners and affection.

“It was great, just great. They made us feel really good.”

While Gary was in the Middle East, the family worked hard to keep things as spiffy as he likes them. There’s new paint on the interior walls, new tile in the basement, new linoleum in the kitchen, new carpeting. With the help of relatives, next winter’s supply of wood is in. Ryan disguised the dent he’d put in the three-wheeler.

In Saudi Arabia, Gary kept busy, too. He made his camp as homelike as he could, complete with a hitching post. He wrote a lot of letters to his family and to strangers. He kept up his daily jogging. He sorted mail and fixed light equipment. He battled boredom with dedication to his work and the reminder that, should the war explode into a lengthy confrontation, his unit was essential.

Meanwhile, at home, Ryan got taller, Stephanie got wiser, Kimberly, at 17 already taller and wiser, got good grades.

As Gary discussed his children, it was evident that he wouldn’t have been much bothered had they gotten shorter and stupid instead. He simply was glad they were his, and that he still has an opportunity to enjoy them. He threw his wife and children a look of affection so profound it bordered on anguish.

“I feel like we have to make time now to vacation more,” he said. “We never had the time before. After being there” – he tilted his head toward the east and gulf war memories – “You realize you’ve got to make time. Because you never know what could happen.”

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