Local Hero: Commissioner Gary Kriesel (US Navy Retired)


Presented to an active, reserve, or retired member of the Armed Forces or ROTC who acted above and beyond the call of duty.

As a U.S. Navy veteran, Washington County District 3 Commissioner Gary Kriesel knows how important it is to honor the sacrifice and courage of our military members before, during, and after serving our country. Not only do military personnel need support throughout the deployment process, their families need support too.

Responding to this need, Gary organized the Yellow Ribbon Network of Washington County—a network of key players from across the county who offer support services and outreach opportunities to military personnel and their families. The network includes municipalities, churches, schools, businesses, volunteer organizations, and veterans’ organizations. Because of Gary’s leadership efforts, Washington County was designated by the Minnesota National Guard and Gov. Pawlenty as the state’s first Yellow Ribbon County.

He was inspired to improve the existing support system for military personnel last April, when the Stillwater-based 34th Red Bull Infantry of the Minnesota National Guard was sent to Iraq. In July, three servicemen assigned to the 34th Red Bull Infantry were killed in the line of duty. Gary and other members of the Yellow Ribbon Network organized a memorial vigil to honor the fallen soldiers and give support to their families, friends, and other service personnel on active duty. Since then, he has worked closely with the Minnesota National Guard to organize special events to promote more awareness and involvement and has been working hard to encourage similar action plans in other Minnesota cities and counties.

“I am not a hero,” Gary says. “That distinction belongs to our men and women in uniform, exemplified by the three MP’s of the 34th Military Police Company of the Red Bull’s who were killed in action, Spc. Daniel Drevnick, Spc. James Wertish, and Spc. Carlos Wilcox IV. I accept this on behalf of them and the entire Yellow Ribbon Network whose members work tirelessly in support of this great cause and seek no recognition.”