Veterans Day dinner will honor Purple Heart recipient Josh Krohnfeldt

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

Thursday evening, Nov. 11, when the Sleepy Eye American Legion holds their annual Veterans Day Dinner they will once again honor all veterans while also making special note of veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart. Local Legion and VFW member Joshua Krohnfeldt, who recently received his Purple Heart, will be a featured guest.

Krohnfeldt, a 1997 graduate of Sleepy Eye High School, worked in the hog industry for several years after high school. After a change in ownership for the company he worked for Krohnfelt decided to leave that position. Inspired by the Sept. 11 attack on the country, he joined the U.S. Army in 2002.

Krohnfeldt received training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. He said soldiers get to choose their MOS (Military Occupational Specialties) and he chose training as a Combat Engineer, dealing with explosives.

Krohnfeldt served with the 1st Infantry Division (known as the Big Red One) with Bravo Co. 1st Engineer Battalion in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II. According to a website on its history, the 1st Engineer Battalion is the oldest and most decorated engineer battalion in the United States Army. 

Joshua Krohnfeldt is pictured during his service in the Sunni Triangle area in Iraq in 2004.

Deployed in the Sunni Triangle area of Iraq, Krohnfeldt's unit cleared explosives. On a route clearance mission the Humvee he was in was hit with an IED (improvised explosive device) a 120 millmeter shell.

"I was hit with shrapnel, three other guys were also hurt," said Krohnfeldt. "Our driver was okay and kept going, driving back under the wire to our unit."

"I had shrapnel in my neck and face," he said. "They cleaned me up and sent me back to work." 

Krohnfeldt admitted that service in Iraq was intense and often difficult. "We lost half of our platoon while serving," he said.

Specialist E-4 Krohnfeldt left the military in July of 2005 and is now a retired veteran. He lives in Springfield where he is raising his daughters, Selene, age 12 and Natalee, age 11.

Today Josh Krohnfeldt enjoys life with his daughters Selene and Natalee.

"I volunteer a lot with Legion and VFW projects," said Krohnfeldt. "And my daughters keep me busy with school activities and sports."

Krohnfeldt qualified for the Purple Heart due to the injuries suffered in combat. He said it was a long process to finally receive the award. It was a process he began when he left the service and just recently concluded.

"You apply for it yourself and have to have the paperwork to prove you were wounded in combat," he explained. "I kept all my paperwork but unfortunately they couldn't read the signature of the doctor who treated me and with so many I served with lost, my officers weren't around to verify it either. Once they figured out who the doctor was, it was finally approved."

Thursday evening, Josh will have his mom, Vicky Krohnfeldt, and his daughters with him at the Veterans Day dinner. His sister, Nicole Brandenburger, lives in Fargo and his dad Greg Krohnfeldt is in Circle Pines. They won't be able to join him in Sleepy Eye, but certainly are proud of his service to the country.

Asked what was good about his time in the service, Krohnfeldt didn't hesitate. "My brothers, the guys I served with, were more like family than anybody in life. I am still in contact with many daily. I am happy to have served our country. God Bless America!"