"If it was a competition in the Big Ten, you'd be the conference champions for what you all have done for the Kloss family."
Those were the words of Maj. Gen. Richard C. Nash, commander, 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division as he bestowed the National Guard's Recognition of Spouses Employer (R.O.S.E.) Award to Bob Ruekert, the Carlson School's associate dean of Undergraduate Programs. It was the first R.O.S.E. Award Nash had presented to honor a company or organization's outstanding commitment to Minnesota service members and their spouses.
The award was presented at a reception in Hanson Hall hosted by Morgan Kinross-Wright, director, Undergraduate Business Career Center, and her husband Col. Dirk Kloss held to show their appreciation for the support they received during Kloss' deployment to Iraq with the "Red Bulls."
While thanking his wife's colleagues for their generous acts, such as painting the outside of the family's Brooklyn Center home, Kloss said it was the words of encouragement, the pats on the back, and the understanding of what Kinross-Wright and their two-year-old son Max were facing that made him most grateful.
"You count on things from your family and you count on things from your friends, but you don't count on people in your wife's office to help out like they did. It really was touching," said Kloss, who served as effects coordinator for the 34th Infantry Division, which totaled more than 16,000 soldiers during its deployment.
While presenting the award to the Carlson School, the general spoke to the successes the "Red Bulls" had in southern Iraq while underscoring the important role spousal support played in their mission.
"The work and vision that Dirk had in terms of what we did over there was realized by folks like Gen. Petraeus and Adm. Mullen who testified in front of Congress and said that the way we do things all over Iraq is what happened in the south with the 34th Division," said Nash.
"He could not focus on that though if he had to worry about all the things that happened to Morgan and her family while she was back here... You got a pretty significant guy here who's married to one of your great employees and we appreciate everything you've done for her."
In addition to the R.O.S.E. Award, Nash and the National Guard also presented a flag that flew over Camp Basra to Ruekert and team.
"All of the people in this room got as much out of painting that house as you and Morgan," said Ruekert. "So we thank you for all that you do for us. Serving your country is a pretty difficult task when it takes you away from your home for as long as it took you away from Minnesota."