We’ve written a lot here about our hometown hero, Lt. Col. Joe Repya. Col. Repya is a veteran of Vietnam and the first Gulf War as well as a civic leader in Eagan, Minnesota. At age 59 he re-upped for active duty and served with the 101st in Iraq last year. He’s on his third tour of combat duty.
The folks at USA Today know a good story when they see one. Tom Vanden Brook features Col. Repya in USA Today’s story on older soldiers: “For older warriors, experience beats athleticism.” Vanden Brook writes:
Repya, who has two daughters and one granddaughter, says he understands how hard it can be for military families. By serving in Iraq, he figures he’s giving a younger colleague a break.
His fellow soldiers believe that they’re winning the war, he says, and he’s eager to rejoin them.
“A lot of young officers tell me that guys like myself willing to take a tour may mean they or one of their friends won’t have to,” he says. “It’s tremendous to me that they have faith in me.”
Col. Repya himself credits his beautiful wife Debra with supporting his desire as of 9/12 to return to active duty. Meeting up with Deb Repya last year after Col. Repya had returned to active duty impressed on me what a huge sacrifice he himself is making.
Col. Repya has been home recuperating from surgery to repair a severed tendon and torn rotator cuff that he sustained in training, but he plans on returning to Iraq in May. He is a remarkable man.
UPDATE: Reader Rich Dahlen writes with a message for Col. Repya:
I’m a Vietnam vet. I am not able to take part in present operations because I didn’t stay in the military and now they tell me I’m too old.
Thank you for doing what many of us would like to do. And thank you for your continued service to our country. Without folks like you, it scares me to think where we would be.
My daughter just returned from Iraq. I know things are going well and the troops strongly support what we are doing. Keep up the good work and may God bless you and your family.
As for the thanks and the blessing, Mr. Dahlen speaks for us.