Terry DeVine column: Fargo pilot draws tough assignment

U.S. Army warrant officer Michael Pavlich is finding out this week that a soldier doesn't have to serve in Iraq to be affected by what is happening there these days.

U.S. Army warrant officer Michael Pavlich is finding out this week that a soldier doesn't have to serve in Iraq to be affected by what is happening there these days.

Pavlich, son of John and Linda Pavlich of Fargo, piloted an Apache Longbow attack helicopter during the war in Iraq. He was with the 11th Aviation Regiment, B Troop, 6-6 Cavalry, out of Fort Hood, Texas.

He was in harm's way daily while in Iraq, but it was a badly shattered ankle -- the result of an accident -- that forced his rotation to Germany back in June.

Then last Thursday a soldier from Pavlich's unit in Iraq was killed and two others injured when a tire they were changing on a "heavy expanded mobility tactical truck" exploded near Balad, 45 miles north of Baghdad.

Pavlich called his mother, who works for Fargo-Moorhead real estate firm Park Co./GMAC, three times in as many days after he was chosen to be the casualty assistance officer for the dead soldier's young widow.


"It really troubles him because she has three children, the youngest 8 months old," says Linda Pavlich.

She says her son had to meet and inspect the soldier's body when it was returned to Germany, then make arrangements for returning it to Houston. He has to help make arrangements for the funeral and act as the wife's helper and liaison through the entire ordeal.

"She (the widow) has requested that he accompany them home to Texas and help her with the funeral," says his mother. "Mike told me he guesses this is why God sent him back to Germany."

"No one really remembers the military spouse when they hear of a soldier dying, but today I am faced with that harsh reality," Pavlich wrote his mother. "The day after she was notified, I, the casualty assistance officer, must visit her and bring the tragedy that has befallen her into focus. Today I also reflect on how strong she has been, paying the bills and raising her three children, and praying every day her soldier will come home safe.

"Yesterday her prayers went unanswered. I ask that the next time a soldier dies you pause and remember -- a family now has no son or daughter, husband or wife, father or mother. Today a family goes without a loved one because that soldier gave his life for you, so you would never know the suffering of a world without freedom."

Mike's father, warrant officer John Pavlich, is still in Baghdad, serving with the 325th Intelligence Battalion.

He was supposed to be home in February, but now Linda says her husband's return may be delayed until April or later. She says she talks to him every Sunday, exchanges e-mails once a week, and prays every day for his safe return.

Linda was taking care of three dogs for her three men until her other son, Capt. James Pavlich, recently returned from duty in South Korea.


"He teased me about turning his golden retriever into a little porker," says Pavlich. "He says he has the dog on a physical training program out in Arizona."

Open house Thursday

Fargo Mayor Bruce Furness and other dignitaries will gather Thursday at 4 p.m. to dedicate the newly remodeled Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

The dedication will include the unveiling of a plaque honoring local veterans.

After the ribbon cutting at the Fargo Civic Center, tour guides will be on hand to offer people a look at the remodeled Civic Center and new city offices added above the main level. The open house will last until 7 p.m.

Two temporary art exhibits focusing on Fargo history will be on display outside the City Commission offices. The first exhibit, "Recreation in Fargo: 1870-1940," examines the history of Fargo at Bonanzaville. The second work, "Living with the River: 1870-1940," focuses on Fargo's environmental history.

The exhibits will remain on display in City Hall for a month. They will then be donated to the State Historical Society of North Dakota's traveling exhibit program.

Free parking will be available in the Third Street parking lot beginning at 3:30 p.m.


Readers can reach Terry DeVine at (701) 241-5515 or

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