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PORTAGE, Wis. – The public had the opportunity to honor a special part of the past of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 132nd Brigade Support Battalion headquarters, and see new training accommodations, during an open house Dec. 6 at the unit armory.

Visitors could stop at various displays explaining the storied history of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and see current equipment the unit uses to conduct its mission.

Capt. Craig Giese, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion training officer, explained that the armory had recently completed a year-long $6 million renovation that added new offices as well as more storage and training space.

“Now we finally have the opportunity to open it up to the public and show everybody what’s going on here,” he said.

The renovation required the 132nd Brigade Support Battalion headquarters to drill in Baraboo. Giese said the unit was happy to be back in its own armory.

The renovation also delayed plans to honor the unit’s former commander, Capt. Karin “Kari” Deimer, who died from cancer four years ago this month. Rather than possibly damage the memorial – a large, heart-shaped stone with plaque – during construction, the decision was made to dedicate the memorial once the renovation was complete.

Capt. Jonathan Meyer, commander of the 132nd Brigade Support Battalion headquarters company, spoke about his friend Deimer, who was sometimes better known as “Captain Sunshine.” They first met during the 32nd Brigade’s deployment to Iraq in 2009, where they were both assigned as screening officers in the Green Zone badging office.

“After working with her for a short time, I realized how much of a caring, charismatic person she was, and how her personality made people around her feel at ease,” Meyer said. “I also quickly realized how fond of her the Peruvian guards and the Iraqis were. She was the full package – attractive, smart, and blonde.”

Meyer said he was pretty sure Deimer received more than one marriage proposal from her Peruvian and Iraqi admirers.

Deimer spent her entire career as an officer in the 132nd Brigade Support Battalion, and served as the acting commander of the headquarters company for several months in 2008 before the brigade deployed. Deimer was part of the team coordinating the 32nd Brigade’s redeployment to the United States, and assumed command of the 132nd Brigade Support Battalion headquarters company in June of 2010.

Col. Leah Moore, a former commander of the 132nd Brigade Support Battalion, spoke glowingly of “Captain Sunshine.” Sgt. Maj. Dean Muller, who served as Deimer’s first sergeant, unveiled the memorial. Deimer’s Meritorious Service Medal, which was approved after her death, was presented to her parents Jim and Judy Deimer.

As Col. Douglas Fleischfresser – who served as the 32nd Brigade chaplain during the 2009-10 deployment – rose to speak, he noted the afternoon sunshine beaming over the ceremony.

“How appropriate,” he said.