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Published October 07, 2009, 10:44 PM

Minnesota Guardsman Dies from Noncombat Injuries

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — U.S. military authorities on Wednesday were investigating the death of a Minnesota guardsman injured in a noncombat-related incident in Iraq, and his family in Coon Rapids was waiting for answers.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — U.S. military authorities on Wednesday were investigating the death of a Minnesota guardsman injured in a noncombat-related incident in Iraq, and his family in Coon Rapids was waiting for answers.

Maj. Tad T. Hervas, 48, of Coon Rapids, died Tuesday at Contingency Operating Base in Basra, the Department of Defense said Wednesday. Officials released little detail, saying he died of "injuries sustained from a noncombat related incident."

Lt. John Hobot, a spokesman with the Minnesota National Guard, said officials there would not speculate on the circumstances surrounding Hervas' death. He said authorities were relying exclusively on military reports and the details were still under investigation.

The major's father, Ned Hervas, said the military didn't give his family any other details on how he died.

"We don't know," he said. "All they said was it was a noncombat death, and there's an investigation going on."

Ned Hervas said the inquiry and the release of his son's body were both waiting for the outcome of an autopsy at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Ned Hervas said his son had recently been home for two weeks and left last Thursday to return to Basra. It was his second tour of duty in Iraq with the National Guard. He had just been fly-fishing in Wisconsin with one of his brothers last week.

"He was an outstanding young man," Ned Hervas said. "We are in total shock about this."

According to the Minnesota National Guard, Tad Hervas was a military intelligence officer assigned to the 34th Infantry Division in Rosemount, also known as the Red Bulls.

He was born in Wisconsin and graduated from Coon Rapids High School in 1979, his family said. As quarterback, he led the Cardinals to the state tournament his senior year. He joined the Air Force ROTC at the University of Minnesota Duluth and entered the Air Force after graduating. He served as a navigator on refueling tanker planes in Iraq during the first Gulf War.

"On his birthday, January 16th, the war began and he was in the air all night refueling fighter jets and other planes," his father recalled.

Tad Hervas returned to civilian life in 1991, selling and installing gas fireplaces, his family said. He decided to return to the military after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He joined the Guard and served with the Red Bulls in Baghdad on his first deployment of the current war.

"It was an extremely dangerous situation almost daily, and yet he returned to Minnesota with all the men in his unit still alive," his father said.

Tad Hervas was redeployed to Iraq last February. He had hoped to stay in the Guard full time when the Basra mission ended, his father said.

The major was not married and had no children.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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