Wayne Lautner, of Jefferson, plays Taps last Thursday at the Jefferson Elks Lodge to close the annual Greene County Heroes Dinner on the anniversary of 9/11.Maj. Gen. Tim Orr

General: ‘We’re winning this war’

Guard commander addresses local veterans, first responders on anniversary of 9/11


The two-star general who made the drive to Jefferson last Thursday to speak at the annual Greene County Heroes Dinner wasn’t blind to the fact that the 13th anniversary of 9/11 seemed like just another day in most towns.

“Between here and Des Moines,” observed Maj. Gen. Tim Orr, adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, “I don’t know of any other city doing this.

“Be proud of that. That’s something we’re losing.”

Orr delivered the keynote address at an event presented by Jefferson Elks Lodge 2306 to honor local veterans, military personnel and first responders on the day marked by tragedy in 2001.

Now in its third year, the Elks served 150 people at a dinner before Orr’s address prepared by Does Drove No. 196.

“We are here to honor you tonight,” said Elk Jerry Roberts, “for who you are and what you do.”

Roberts also announced a new Elks initiative to honor Greene County residents who fly the American flag 24 hours a day — that is, with the proper lighting.

Nominations for the new Spotlight Award can be made to the local lodge.

Orr, who joined the Iowa Army National Guard during his senior year at Boone High School in 1979, is no stranger to Greene County.

He taught and coached at East Greene High School in the 1980s, and returned earlier this year in his role as commander of the Iowa Guard to help Gov. Terry Branstand designate the county as the state’s first veteran-friendly Home Base Iowa community.

In many ways, Orr also was a fitting choice to speak at an event commemorating 9/11.

After all, the ensuing War on Terror single-handedly has turned the Guard from a strategic reserve into an operational force.

A glance at a list of Iowans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan reveals the names of nearly two dozen guardsmen.

Orr became the Iowa Army National Guard’s deputy adjutant general in January 2009, and became adjutant general two months later.

“We’ve taken the fight to the terrorists all over the world,” Orr said.

Orr acknowledged the two Jefferson men — Marine Lance Cpl. Ben Carman and Army Capt. Matthew Nielson — killed in Iraq.

“This county has suffered more than others. You’ve lost two,” he said.

But the nation as a whole, he said, has rallied from the attacks on 9/11.

“We’re winning this war,” Orr said. “We’re winning because we’ve got a great team of men and women.”

However, Orr cautioned that the war on terror isn’t likely to be won anytime soon.

In fact, President Obama on Sept. 10 addressed the nation about the latest threat, the Islamic State.

“It will continue to be a long, hard struggle,” Orr warned.

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