Yellow Ribbon chief served with Sgt. Mark Shields in Iraq

by Jim Boyle


The pain from the tragedy surrounding Sgt. 1st Class Mark Shield’s wife and two children is being felt far and wide and up to the top rung of state’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon ladder.

Maj. Aaron Krenz, who serves as the Branch Chief of Deployment Cycle Support and Beyond the Yellow Ribbon for the Guard, served with Shields in 2004 and 2005 in Iraq.

“From my time in service with him, I can tell you he did an outstanding job in his duties while in a combat zone,” Krenz said. “That’s always been the image left in my mind is how well he did under extreme pressure in taking care of his soldiers.”

Shield was deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2004 to November 2005.

He continues to be a member of the Minnesota National Guard and has been since 1989, according to Army Maj. Kristen Auge, spokeswoman for the state’s National Guard.

He’s currently a full-time readiness, noncommissioned officer for the 850th Horizontal Engineer Company. As a noncommissioned officer, he works at the Cambridge Armory and stays even when they are deployed.

The 149-member unit was deployed on March 6 to Fort Bliss, Texas, in preparation for a one-year deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“Sgt. Shields is an extremely valuable member of our organization,” Krenz said. “He’s an outstanding leader, a noncommissioned officer and we certainly offer our heartfelt sympathy to him, his family and friends and his community. We will do whatever we can.”

Krenz said the Guard and Shields’ unit commander have reached out to Shields and will continue during this difficult time.

He said that’s one of the beauties of the Guard as it operates today and the Yellow Ribbon networks.

“They are there and thankfully so,” Krenz said. “They help support our servicemen and women and their families no matter what the need. What to do all depends on the situation.”