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Spotlight: Sergeant Major Edgar J. Hansen

September 3, 2010

By the time (Sergeant Major) Edgar Hansen came to Silver Lake College in 1980, he had already served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam, West Germany, and Korea.  Ed came to Silver Lake because he had always wanted a degree.  “I wasn’t a good student when I was younger, so when I came back to Silver Lake, I obviously had things I had to get better at.”  After writing endless papers on a typewriter, where “if you screwed up, you started over”, Ed honed his communications skills, which he knew would be important as his life moved forward.  “I loved my four years at Silver Lake.  I was the editor of the SLC Update and I helped with the Quiddity.  We started a chapter of the Business Administration Student Association.  We hosted touch football competitions and there were TGIF Drinking nights in the Student Lounge.  It was a great time.”

After Ed got his degree in Business Management, he moved to Colorado, where he started out in the retail business as a store manager at a toy company.  “After three years, I realized that I hated retail,” Ed relates.  He started his job search and came back to Wisconsin, where he worked with Office Technology (which has since gone out of business [of course, this had nothing to do with Ed working there, but probably only with his leaving]).  He started out as the warehouse manager, and then became the vice president.  He left briefly to work for a friend in Milwaukee, but then returned to Office Technology to implement a new software program.  “I thought the company would work through their financial problems, but they didn’t, so I got laid off,” Ed says.

That’s when Ed signed up to be in the National Guard.  As a volunteer in the National Guard, Ed volunteered to go to Afghanistan as an ETT Embedded trainer in 2003.  There, he worked with an Afghan battalion of about 500 soldiers.  He helped to train the army and worked with the military officials as an advisor.  The mission was to help build the Afghan government and build an army, so that the American troops could leave.

On another mission, Ed provided security for the Loya Jirga, which is the council of tribal elders and chiefs that was assembled to put together a new constitution and elect people to head the new government.  He also helped provide security for voter registration.

Ed also helped to set up medical points for people to get health care.  “It is a much different culture than here.  Fathers and grandfathers would bring the children to the health centers, and the men would come to describe the symptoms of their wives,” Ed explained.  “The whole time I was there, I never met an Afghan woman.”

After a 6-month break living in Minnesota, Ed was deployed to Iraq to work on the Military Transition Team, which would work to train Iraqi military officials to take over the leadership of the army, which was being held by Americans.

Ed returned to Wisconsin yet again, and went back down to Milwaukee to work for his friend at Anchor Rack for a second time.  Then he got activated for a special mission called PTAE.  His job was to make sure that soldiers to be deployed were properly trained first.  Part of Ed’s work at this time was to organize a program to keep track of the proper documentation of 3,000-plus soldiers.

In April 2009, Ed and his well-trained brigade were deployed to Iraq.  There, Ed worked with a 4-Star Commander to manage an international zone.  “We did everything.  It was like being the mayor of a large city.  We maintained security, managed check points, maintained electrical infrastructure, and helped to restore a lot of the war-damaged properties back to use.”

“While we were there,” Ed explains, “there was a big transition from American leadership to Iraqi leadership.  Iraqi armies took over the security of their country.”

As part of the support group, Ed got to travel quite a bit during this time, as he supported over 3000 soldiers all over the country.  “We controlled the ambassador helicopters, so they would fly us wherever we wanted.  It was a lot of fun, and we got to see a lot of the country.”

Ed’s office at this time was a bombed-out palace called Camp Prosperity.  This is also where dignitaries would stay when they came to the country.  “I met quite a few of the leadership of the Iraqi army, including General Odierno, who is the four-star general in charge of Iraq,” Ed said.

Ed just returned from the Iraq in January, and has been retired from the National Guard since July 31.  He is currently trying to fill his time with meaningful things, such as spending ample time with his grandchildren.

Ed received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Silver Lake College in 2010, for his significant professional achievement, and for the incredible contributions he has made to society.  Silver Lake College thanks Ed for being such a great example of what every SLC student could be!

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