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Terry DeVine column: Web site gets messages to 142nd

Spc. Jon Fettig's burial in Dickinson last week reminded me once again that there are still lots of North Dakota National Guardsmen in harm's way in Iraq.

Spc. Jon Fettig's burial in Dickinson last week reminded me once again that there are still lots of North Dakota National Guardsmen in harm's way in Iraq.

I talked with Alicia Porter of Great Bend, N.D., after she

e-mailed me a very touching poem written by Anthony A. Bryant, a member of the 142nd Engineering Combat Battalion, which told why he felt his service in Iraq was important.

Porter has taken it upon herself to do everything she can to make certain the morale of members of the 142nd stays at the highest possible level.

Her husband, Staff Sgt. Pat Porter, is a member of Company A of the 142nd out of Oakes, N.D. He also served in Kosovo for eight months in 2000.

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Pat's two brothers, Spc. Timothy Porter and Spc. Anthony Porter, both members of Company B out of Wahpeton, N.D., are also with the 142nd in Iraq.

All three are sons of Patricia Porter, who lives in Wahpeton. Alicia says mom is more than a little concerned these days for the continued safety of her only children.

Before the 142nd left for Iraq, Alicia says she and her husband created a Web site for the North Dakota Army National Guard unit: www.the142.com .

"We created the Web site because it was such a morale booster when they were in Kosovo," says Alicia. "We are able to e-mail compiled messages from the message board to the soldiers a few times a week and they are getting these messages quicker than regular mail."

Alicia says morale has been down and the messages really help to pick it up a little.

"Right now we only have approximately 200 soldiers listed on our Web site and we would love to see all 800-plus soldiers from the 142nd and 957th (Engineering Company) listed and getting messages," says Porter.

She compiles the messages and sends them to a member of the 142nd in Iraq who has daily e-mail access because of her job. She, in turn, prints all of them out and sends them out with the unit's mail three times a week.

"My husband called me a month ago and said they needed more messages because they're such a morale builder," says Alicia, who's an instrumentation technician at Minn-Dak Cooperative's sugar beet plant in Wahpeton.

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Porter says the Web site is currently averaging 60 messages a day and had 155,000 hits during the month of July.

Get your soldier's name listed on the Web site and keep those messages flowing every week.

Top Shriner from N.D.

Burton Oien, who was born and reared in the LaMoure, N.D., area, became the top Shriner in the world last month.

Chuck Sjostrom, secretary of the Sheyenne Valley Shrine Club and Flag Corps in Valley City, N.D., reports that Oien was installed as Imperial Potentate of the Shrine of North America during the Shrine's Imperial Session in Minneapolis.

Oien, a University of North Dakota graduate, is married to Sharon Kaftan, daughter of George and Gayle Kaftan. All three were on hand for Oien's installation. George, the former mayor of LaMoure, is 95, and Sjostrom says he would still march with the Sheyenne Valley Shrine Club if members insisted.

Oien, who has a doctorate from the University of Oklahoma, was elected to the Shrine Imperial Divan in 1993 and has spent the last 10 years rising through the Imperial Council.

Readers can reach Terry DeVine at (701) 241-5515 or tdevine@forumcomm.com

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