City Council Member Called To Active Duty

February 20, 2008 Larry Westerlund announced the Navy has given him orders to ship out to Iraq.

Westerlund is a newlywed and now he has to leave his wife and family and take a 14 month leave of absence to honor the commitment he made nearly 20 years ago.

"Today I am announcing that the United States Navy has called me back to active duty."

Nearly three dozen people stood on the steps of Fresno's Veterans Memorial Building as City Council Member Larry Westerlund tearfully announced he will be heading to Iraq for 14 months.

"The hardest part of this is going to be saying goodbye to my wife for a while and my family."

Westerlund got married just 2 months ago. His relationship with the Navy Reserves though, spans nearly two decades.

He serves as a Lieutenant Commander.

"It's a detour in life that we certainly didn't expect. Always knew it was a possibility but it's certainly a shocker when it does come."

Especially when he's up for re-election this year, Westerlund says he will definitely seek a second term but it will be his wife and friends doing his campaigning.

Dora Westerlund, Wife: "I will do anything to walk precincts and to be out there on his behalf to get him re-elected."

Jerry Duncan, Fresno City Council: "In terms of Fresno's history I don't believe this has happened before so this is a historic moment."

The Fresno City Council will appoint and vote on Westerlund's temporary replacement before he leaves for duty April 25th.

Blong Xiong, Fresno City Council: "It's definitely going to be a challenge, losing his experience, knowledge and commitment that he has.

His deployment starts in Sacramento and then Fort Jackson, South Carolina where he'll train for a couple of months before shipping out to an undisclosed city in Iraq.

"We've talked about this before but I never knew it was going to be in 2 months after we were married. That was kind of a shock."

The council man is a high ranking officer who says he will likely be assigned to staff duties and won't be involved with weapons.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.