High Country soldier prepares for Iraq | VailDaily.com

High Country soldier prepares for Iraq

Christine McManus
Summit Daily/Reid Williams There are a lot of smiles and laughter at the Holmberg home in Dillon Valley, but Logan, wife Jeanne and daughters Kelsie and Ashley worry about dad Shane leaving for Iraq next month.

Capt. Shane Holmberg’s military gear is packed, and he says he knows what to expect in Iraq this summer. But his wife and three children aren’t nearly as sure.

Holmberg’s nephew left for a three-month assignment in Iraq last year and returned last week after more than a year of service.

The 42-year-old husband and father is shipping out from Dillon Valley to Iraq within the next couple weeks.

“I’ve stopped watching the news on television about the war. It’s just too much to think about with him leaving,” said wife Jeanne Holmberg.

Holmberg’s assignment with the 140th Fighter Wing of the Colorado Air National Guard is to help set up an air base at a facility that currently has 10,000 army soldiers and 3,000 U.S. Marines. The assignment is supposed to take one month.

“He’s a commitment man. He’s very patriotic. This is what he believes in, and we support him,” said Jeanne Holmberg. “But I want him back in 30 days.”

If Holmberg is gone any longer, the general contractor’s family will face tremendous financial burden. His military salary doesn’t quite keep pace with a budget for a household of four in Summit County.

High Mountain Homes – his residential construction business – will be managed by his partner. “It’s been a slow year for construction,” Capt. Holmberg said. “There have been some soldier bankruptcies over the past year.

“I just hope no one forgets about my business when I return.”

Several months before Sept. 11, 2001, the general contractor invested his life savings to build a $1 million speculative home in Aspen Glen near Carbondale on a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. He said he would be thrilled if it sells before he leaves this month, since it’s been on the market 18 months already.

Holmberg also will miss his 20th wedding anniversary, and possibly his oldest daughter Ashley’s 17th birthday if he’s not back by July 3.

The family learned about Holmberg’s deployment to Iraq on Feb. 11.

“I was quiet around my friends for a while, because we couldn’t tell anyone since everything was classified,” said Ashley, a junior at Summit High School.

Now that the family is allowed to tell people Holmberg is leaving, they’ve had a lot of support from Dillon Community Church, teachers and friends.

Holmberg’s 11-year-old daughter, Kelsie, said she’s scared for her father. His 9-year-old son, Logan, said he will miss playing PlayStation combat video games with his dad.

Holmberg, who began serving in the Air National Guard in Alaska when he was 28, said he will be one of 200,000 soldiers in Iraq during the next year.

As an aviation maintenance officer, Holmberg will be traveling and stationed with 12, $30 million F16 fighter planes. Although temperatures will get up to 150 degrees working with the planes, he says his assignment is safer than most.

Other reported estimates indicate at least 138,000 troops will be stationed in Iraq this summer. There is a June 30 deadline for the shifting of power from U.S.-led military to an interim Iraqi government.

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