Military Science, ROTC

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Eric D. Kerska grew up in La Crescent, Minnesota and joined the Minnesota Army National Guard in 1983 as an 11B Infantry Scout. He attended Winona State University from 1983 to 1987 and was commissioned out of the University’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in 1985 and became a Platoon Leader in C Company, 1st Battalion, 94th Armor Regiment until entering active duty in 1987. After graduating in May of 1987 with a Bachelors of Arts in History he attended Armor Basic Officer’s Leadership Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky and was assigned to 4th Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 8th Infantry Division in Germany. In that unit (then) First Lieutenant Kerska served as the Battalion Heavy (4.2 inch) Mortar Platoon Leader and later the A Company Executive Officer during Operation Desert Storm. His Battalion was assigned to 3rd Armored Division (Spearhead) for the duration of Desert Storm. During the famous 100-hour ground war, Lieutenant Kerska and his M1A1 Abrams Tank crew engaged and destroyed an Iraqi T-72 main battle tank in combat. Following promotion to Captain in 1991, he served in assignments as S-4 and later HHC commander, 4th Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas. In 1994 (then) Captain Kerska transitioned from active duty back to the Minnesota Army National Guard.

After returning to the Minnesota National Guard, (then) Captain Kerska served as the S-3 Air of 1st Battalion, 94th Armor Regiment, followed by service as the S-4 and B Company Commander of 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry Regiment. Following his promotion to Major in 1997 he served as the S-1 of 1st Brigade, 34th Infantry Division (Red Bulls) and the Battalion S-3 of 1st Battalion, 94th Infantry Regiment, the same unit he had once been a platoon leader in. Following multiple assignments at the Minnesota Army National Guard Headquarters, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 2003 and took command of 1st Battalion, 94th Armor Regiment. In 2005-2006 Lieutenant Colonel Kerska deployed to Iraq as the Brigade S-3 of 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division (Red Bulls) where he was instrumental in developing and implementing a unique convoy trail book for the brigade. The product provided situational awareness to all Soldiers of the brigade regarding route statuses, named areas of interest, and most importantly improvised explosive device (IED) defeat tactics and techniques.

In March of 2007 he was promoted to Colonel and from 2007 to 2009 Colonel Kerska served as the Brigade Deputy Commanding Officer before taking command of 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division (Red Bulls) in July of 2009. He led the Brigade through its deployment to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn in 2011. During the deployment, Colonel Kerska’s Brigade contained nine Battalions, an Army dive team, and a Navy security detachment. In December of 2011 the Brigade crossed back into Kuwait as part of the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and assumed the theater reserve mission under United States Army Central. The Brigade redeployed in 2012 after successfully completing its mission.

In 2012, Colonel Kerska was assigned as the 34th Infantry Division Chief of Staff and saw the Division through two extremely successful exercises. Talisman-Saber 13 and Warfighter 14-5B. He retired in 2014 after over 32 years of service to the Nation.

Colonel Kerska’s military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Achievement Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Valorous Unit Award, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal with Two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, the National Defense Service Medal with one Bronze Service Star, the Southwest Asia Service Medal with three Bronze Service Stars, the Iraq Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Silver Hourglass Bronze Mobilization Device and Bronze Numeral 2, the Army Service Ribbon, the Army Overseas Service Ribbon with Bronze Numeral 2, the Army Reserve Component Overseas Training ribbon with Bronze Numeral 2, the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait), the Combat Action Badge, and the 8th Infantry Division, 3rd Armor, and 34th Infantry Division Combat Service Identification Badges.