Returning from duty
The Mowers brothers, Seth, Trent and Trace, along with
Robbie Larson are welcomed home by friends and family
by John Grones | March 28, 2006
A send-off for four young men from Cromwell was a mere
559 days ago. Not that long for the average person living a busy life in
America. For four young men, Robbie Larson, Seth, Trent and Trace Mowers, a
trip to the Middle East to serve their country was quite long.
On Sunday, March 19, Bethany Lutheran Church in Cromwell
held a welcome home celebration for the safe return of the boys. Several
members of the community spoke on behalf of the boys and their commitment to
High school principal JoAn Bloemendaal-Gruett shared how
she watched these young men grow up and graduate from Cromwell High School. “I
truly appreciate the commitment you guys have made to our community,” she said.
“How blessed we are that all four returned safely.”
Bill Switzer felt compelled to speak at the celebration.
He shared there were many in the congregation who prayed for the boys’ safe,
uninjured return. “As you proceed in your lives’ endeavors,” said Bill, “I pray
that all the safety influences you’ve encountered will help you to trust in
Bill concluded by saluting the four boys and stating they
truly are honorable men.
All four men signed up for the service around the same
time (spring of 2002), and they were all a part of the Echo 216 ADA group out
of Cloquet. They left home in August and spent six months training at Fort
Bliss, Texas, followed by a trip to Kuwait in early January. By the end of
January, Trent and Trace found themselves in Dora, Iraq providing security for
an oil refinery and training Iraqi soldiers. Robbie and Seth split off and went
to Saudi Arabia where they provided security for high ranking officers.
Trent and Trace Mowers
Twin brothers, Trent and Trace Mowers, are 2003 Cromwell
High School graduates. They both wanted
to go into the service since they were young. Trent remembers when he was in
junior high school and he wanted to join the Marine Corps. “My mom and dad
wouldn’t sign the early release forms,” said Trent. “They said they would sign
the papers if I went into the National Guard.”
The Mowers family felt this would be a better route.
Looking back, the boys are happy with their decision. “If I could turn back the
clock, there is nothing I would change about it,” Trent added. “Over in Iraq
there are some things the average person shouldn’t experience, but I think it
was all a good experience. If I had the decision to volunteer and go over
again, I would do it.”
Trace agreed. He shared that in addition to training
Iraqi soldiers, their group conducted security patrols in Baghdad. Not really
knowing when and where something would occur created the most anxious moments.
Trace concluded that being in a whole new environment was interesting and
exciting at times.
As for the disposition of the Iraqi people, Trace
explained that 95 percent of the people are glad the American forces are there.
“The people in the area gave us a lot of support,” he said. “There is just a
small percentage of people who don’t believe another religious group should be
Trent added it is important for the troops to be Iraq.
“All the troops over there are doing an important mission,” said Trent. “We are
trying to help the Iraqis out and make it a better country as a whole... we are
trying to end terrorism over there.”
“Some of the Iraqis we worked with day in and day out are
very happy to have us there,” Trent concluded.
Trace concluded by stating the media doesn’t show the
good that’s being done. “We try to do a good deed every day. Providing medical
supplies, bringing doctors in or... giving away school supplies... just the
help that we provide.”
Overall, the twins shared they appreciated the coming
home celebration and all the cards which were sent over to Iraq. “We shared
everything with all the troops over there. I just want to thank everybody for
everything they did,” added Trent.
Seth Mowers and Robbie Larson
Seth Mowers, a 2000 graduate of Cromwell High School and
the older brother of Trent and Trace, shared he actually became interested in
joining the Army National Guard after his brothers decided to join. “I was
going to school at the time and I was having a hard time paying tuition,” said
Seth. “I looked at all the great benefits they had and I decided if they are
going to join, I might as well join, too.”
Looking back, Seth is happy about the financial benefits
of his decision, but he didn’t really enjoy his deployment. “It wasn’t a very
good time in my life,” he shared. “I don’t think I could go through another
He did conclude it was a good decision and it was a
chance to serve his country.
Like Trent and Trace, Robbie Larson, a 2003 Cromwell
graduate, also knew he was going to serve his country at an early age. “My mom
has pictures of me in military fatigues, and the stories they tell are that
they knew before I did that I would serve,” said Robbie.
His parents also wouldn’t sign the early release papers.
They, too, wanted Robbie to see what the military was all about by joining the
Seth and Robbie split from the larger group Trent and
Trace were in on January 26, 2005. Their mission was in Saudi Arabia.
“We were force security,” he said. “Mainly we guarded
high ranking officials in all branches of service. Their mission was to train
Saudis on American military equipment, so we protected them as they trained
Seth shared his experience was much different than his
twin brothers’. Seth was encouraged to hide from the public and not be
recognized as an American. There were some anxious moments. “I was stationed at
the main gate, and we were receiving bomb threats,” he said. “For a couple of
weeks I was pretty nervous that we were going to get hit with a bomb and there
was nothing I could do to stop it.”
Overall Seth’s job was pretty monotonous and he sat for
Robbie can relate. His job was also monotonous. “I was on
the same mission as Seth, but I had a different job,” said Robbie. “I spent
most of my time in a guard tower. I worked the night shift.” The hardest aspect
of Robbie’s job was staying awake for 12 hours.
Both Robbie and Seth have their opinions of America’s
involvement in the war. Seth has gone back and forth and he shared that he can
see both sides. “I can see how it would be nice to bring all of the soldiers
and just get out of there, but then I can see where we are doing some good.”
Seth feels it is a tough political position.
Robbie feels like the military is getting some things
accomplished. “We’ve done a lot of good things,” he said, then added that he
watched a video of Saddam’s torcher tactics. “It is easy to see why we are
there. It may have not been the exact time to do it, but it had to be done.”
In conclusion, all four men expressed that they really
appreciated everything everybody did back home. Seth shared that the letters
and the care packages for the soldiers were very important. “It really made my
day when I got a letter,” he concluded. “It really lifted me up and I would
have a smile on my face the whole day after receiving a letter.”
This article first appeared in the March 28 issue of the