Not only has Brett Corson, Fillmore County Attorney, fulfilled his duties to our county for 16 years but he has served our country for 30 years in the Army Reserve. Brett’s career in the Army started after his graduation from Luther College. He did his basic training at Fort Knox and then was a reservist as a combat engineer at Fort Snelling. During this time he attended William Mitchell Law School and with his law degree was then assigned to the Judge Advocate Unit at Fort Snelling as a reservist. He was commissioned as an officer in 1991 and retires with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (LTC).
As a reservist you are required to attend weekend training once a month and at other times more time is required. Deployment is part of being in the Army Reserve and that happened twice in Corson’s military career. He had two yearlong deployments: Afghanistan in 2003-2004 and Iraq in 2007-2008. At the time, deployment of reservists, other than for emergencies, was a fairly new concept in the military and to the county board. The board was apprehensive about his leaving, as they were concerned about finding a qualified replacement during his absence. For his first deployment to Afghanistan, the county was able to secure the services of a former Mower County attorney, Pat Oman, who was able to step into the office knowing the duties of a county attorney. During his deployment in Iraq in 2007-2008, Brett’s assistant county attorney, Kelly Wagner, agreed to take the office with the addition of two assistant attorneys. Both times the county was fortunate to have people step into the position that had the experience necessary to support Corson’s absence.
In both deployments Brett was assigned to a civil affairs unit whose duties were to establish a presence. In Afghanistan they met with local police and officials to try to reconstruct a civil government since the Taliban had destroyed it. They met with the loya jirga (tribal council) that included tribal chiefs and elected officials to help create a constitution. Other duties included assistance in getting hospitals reestablished and providing security for cultural sites and activities. They supervised and got funds for the jails that held the enemy and ensured the ethical treatment of prisoners. They were often called upon to be military escorts for UN (United Nations) officials.
In Iraq, Corson was in a FOB (Forward Operating Base) in Baqubah doing many of the same things as in Afghanistan by establishing a presence. This deployment saw more action with routine shelling and more security issues. Getting intelligence from the locals and keeping peace between the Sunnis and the Shihas was added to their duties.
Some of the highlights of his time away were getting to travel to areas close by and seeing the different cultures of each country. In 2007 he was sent to Baghdad to brief the new United States ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker. After his time in these two deployments Brett was awarded the Bronze Star for exceptional service in combat.
Perhaps the most difficult part of this separation from family was the reentry into civilian life. Most returnees have a brief time to decompress but reservists do not. They must immediately get back to their previous jobs. Brett’s wife had basically been a single parent directing all family activities while he was gone. He had to re-establish his role as parent of three children and husband. He joked about getting ready for his first day back on the job and how his wife had to tie his tie because he had forgotten how to do it. His experiences made him very thankful for all that we have as Americans because many people in the world do not have the security of food, clean water, safety and shelter. We as a nation should also be thankful for those like Brett Corson who protect our freedoms.