Minnesota soldier dies from noncombat injuries in Iraqby Mark Steil, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — A Minnesota National Guard soldier has died in Iraq in what the military is describing as a noncombat incident.
Major Tad Hervas of Coon Rapids was serving his second tour of Iraq when he died yesterday on Tuesday.
Maj. Hervis was with the 34th Infantry Division, the well known Red Bulls. His father, Ned Hervas of Coon Rapids, said he got the news of his son's death on Tuesday.
"Yesterday morning two soldiers showed up at the door, and you know what that means right away," Hervas said. "He had died early, early that morning."
He said the soldiers did not tell him anything about how his son died. Capt. Paul Rickert, public affairs officer with the Red Bulls, said the non-combat death of Maj. Hervas is still under investigation.
"Currently we're relying exclusively on official military reports," Capt. Rickert said. "The details are still under investigation by the U.S. military authorities in Iraq. Once that investigation is complete, that information will be released."
Maj. Tad Hervas lived most of his life in Coon Rapids. He quarterbacked his high school football team into the state tournament in the late 1970s. Fly-fishing was one of his hobbies.
As a civilian, he worked in the home renovation business, installing fireplaces. Maj. Hervas was on his third wartime tour of duty in Iraq when he died. He was first there in the early 1990s with the Air Force. He was a navigator on a refueling tanker plane, based out of Minot, N.D. His father, Ned Hervas, said he was transferred to the Middle East during the buildup to the first Gulf War in 1991.
"On his birthday, January 16, the war started," Hervas said. "And he was circling close to Baghdad, refueling bombers and fighters and whatever needed gas, they would refuel them."
Hervas left the Air Force after the war, but he rejoined the military, this time the Army, after the Sept. 11 attacks. His father said he wanted to help his country. Ned Hervas said his son went back to Iraq about four years ago, for a year as a combat solider.
He was stationed on the south side of Baghdad, patrolling a 12 square mile area which included an oil refinery. His father said he wanted to help bring democracy to the country, but was disheartened by the widespread corruption he saw among Iraqi government officials.
"The leaders, all they do is look for bribes, and he says it's just unbelievable," Hervas said. "You try to help them and you can't because somebody's got their hand out and you got to take care of them first."
His father said he stayed with the military though, and began another tour of duty in Iraq last February. This time he saw progress in Iraq, and was proud that the Red Bull Division was helping rebuild the country. He was serving with an intelligence unit when he died. He'd been home on leave recently. Maj. Tad Hervas returned to Iraq only last Thursday.
- All Things Considered, 10/07/2009, 5:24 p.m.