/*********************************************** * Chrome CSS Drop Down Menu- (c) Dynamic Drive DHTML code library (www.dynamicdrive.com) * This notice MUST stay intact for legal use * Visit Dynamic Drive at http://www.dynamicdrive.com/ for full source code ***********************************************/
Minnesota National Guard
Welcome Home! Walker, Laporte Soldiers return home after 16 months in Iraq

It was a homecoming many thought would never come

Twenty-two months after they first left Minnesota, 16 months of which were spent in combat zones in Iraq, 40 Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard A Co 2nd Combined Arms Battalion 136th Infantry Red Dogs returned home Sunday afternoon, after a bus ride from Fort McCoy, Wis, to Bemidji

Six of the Soldiers on the bus that left Wisconsin about 5:30 am Sunday morning were from the Walker area

Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School graduates Eric Alger, David Nelson, Isaac Peck and Jeff Woodford, along with Kasey Kampfer of Laporte and Kris Kolkin of Cass Lake, were greeted by thousands who turned out on city streets, waving US flags and holding up "Welcome Home" signs

The welcome home was suppose to happen four months ago, but the Minnesota unit's tour was extended, making them the longest-serving unit in Operation Iraqi Freedom

The towns of Backus, Hackensack, Walker, Laporte and Bemidji came out in full force to welcome the troops home Between 300 and 400 people lined Highway 371 in Hackensack, while there were about 1,500 people in Walker

The motorcade was led by Minnesota State Highway Patrol, sheriff's departments, fire and ambulance crews, and Legion Riders

The bus arrived at John Glas Fieldhouse in Bemidji shortly after 3 pm After a brief welcome from Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehman, First Sgt John Solberg addressed the Soldiers before dismissing them to their families

For the first time in 22 months, the Soldiers were home to stay, as cheers went up, long-awaited embraces were shared and tears were shed

"I saw a lot of people I wasn't expecting to see up here and on the streets of Walker," said Woodford who added, "It's great to be home" He, like so many of the Soldiers, had an emotional reunion with his parents and other family members, his girlfriend and friends "We didn't expect this much of a turnout Hackensack was huge, and we kind of assumed Walker would be the same thing It was unbelievable"

Peck, who now resides in Hibbing, said the experience was overwhelming

"It's awesome I knew there was going to be a turnout, but I didn't expect anything like this It's pretty amazing," he said "There had to be more people in Walker than the entire population" Greeting Peck in Bemidji were several family members, including his wife Toni and 16-month-old son Avery

"It's been tough being away," the 1999 graduate said, referring to not seeing his son for almost the entire first 16 months of his life Peck's last time home was last November, when he had two weeks of leave

Several family members and friends also turned out for Kampfer

"I don't even know how to describe it," Kampfer said when asked how it feels to be home "Seeing everybody here and how much they supported us is awesome"

The Laporte community also lined streets of their town to welcome home Kampfer, who received a Purple Heart after he was injured, but was able to return to duty

"I never knew that many people would come to that town It's a small town, but there were a lot of people there," he said "It was great to see all the people, and my family"

The last two area Soldiers who are expected to return home this week are Lt. Col. Gregg Parks, the unit's commander, and Aaron Reuter Parks will return to Walker Friday afternoon, while Reuter's return is not known

A celebration for the Red Bulls has been planned at Bemidji State University for Aug 25, while the date for a public welcome of the Walker-area Soldiers has not yet been set

These reunions have been happening around the state over the last few weeks, as Soldiers continue to return home

Nicole Feldhege, a member of B Company 134th Brigade and a Walker native, returned home from Fort McCoy last week She was part of a group of troops that arrived at Camp Ripley Friday

Since arriving in Iraq in March 2006, the unit was credited with reducing the attacks in the Anbar Province by about 80 percent, including detaining more than 300 Al Qaeda forces

by Dean Morrill, Editor, The Pilot-Independent
July 25, 2007
Article source: www.walkermn.com

Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

Minnesota Nice Extends to Puerto Rico

Posted: 2017-12-08  12:08 PM
Minnesota National Guard CAMP SANTIAGO, Puerto Rico - It has been more than two months since Hurricane Maria stuck Puerto Rico, leaving a trail of disaster behind it. The island was in dire need of some extra help. More than 230 Air National Guardsmen from 29 states have been deployed to the island and are helping in any way they can.

Eleven of those Airmen are from the Minnesota National Guard's 148th Fighter Wing out of Duluth, Minn. and the 133rd Airlift Wing out of St. Paul, Minn., are no exception in their desire to lend a helping hand. They have been at Camp Santiago, Puerto Rico, since before Thanksgiving and will leave around mid-December. Their mission is to feed military and civilian hurricane relief workers, giving them the much-needed fuel to complete their mission throughout the day.

Governor Mark Dayton installs new Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General

Posted: 2017-11-04  04:16 PM
TAG installation ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton administered the oath of office to Maj. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, installing him as the Minnesota National Guard's 31st Adjutant General during a ceremony in St. Paul, November 4, 2017.

"General Jensen has been a tremendous leader of the Minnesota National Guard throughout his years of dedicated service," said Governor Dayton. "He has served in two top leadership positions, as the Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, and also as the Chief of Staff at the Guard's Joint Force Headquarters. I am confident that he will continue to provide the same outstanding leadership as his predecessor, General Rick Nash."

Jensen most recently served as the Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. He previously held positions as Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Africa and Southern European Task Force, Minnesota National Guard Director of the Joint Staff and Minnesota National Guard Assistant Adjutant General - Army.

Guard Heritage Suffers with Loss of Artillery Unit

Posted: 2017-10-04  11:22 AM
ETAB ANOKA, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard lost one of its most historically significant units when the 151st Artillery's E Battery, (Target Acquisition) cased its colors in a ceremony at the Anoka High School Aug. 19, 2017.

The Target Acquisition Battery (ETAB), 151st Field Artillery is one of the oldest and most decorated units in the Minnesota National Guard and the 34th Infantry Division. "Both Minnesota and the Division lose the proud lineage that goes back to Civil War days, through WW1 and WW2, and had a significant amount of battle streamers," said 151st Field Artillery Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Patrick Cornwell.

The 151st Field Artillery draws its lineage from the 1st Regiment, Minnesota Heavy Artillery of 1864 which fought two major campaigns in Tennessee during the Civil War.

In one month: Minnesota Guardsmen support Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria

Posted: 2017-09-29  02:25 PM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - In the span of a few weeks, three major hurricanes hit different parts of the southern United States, causing widespread damage and destruction and requiring the response of agencies around the country. The Minnesota National Guard is one of the many organizations that have responded, sending Soldiers and Airmen to Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

"This is the most gratifying deployment of my career," said Capt. Jeremy Maxey with the 133rd Airlift Wing who was called back from his vacation early to go to the Virgin Islands. "It means a lot to be able to actually directly help people. It's why I serve. Throughout my career I've deployed numerous times, but this is the one where you actually see the people you serve."

The start of the month brought the first request for assistance. On Sept. 1, two CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 11 personnel from the St. Cloud-based B Company, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment left for Texas following Hurricane Harvey to transport personnel and equipment in support of response efforts.

Article archive