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Minnesota National Guard
Tribute to the troops

With the long months of separation behind them and after some time to readjust, it was time for members of the Army National Guard 2-136th to celebrate

The community turned out in full force - approximately 2,700 - at the VFW Saturday to dance, dine and just be happy the troops are home. Before the party started, approximately 300 Soldiers and their families gathered to eat and reunite with those who had become their surrogate families. During the months of separation from their loved ones, families left behind formed a tight bond.

"It's a good thing, seeing families we haven't seen for two months, after we spent two years together," said Nancy Purdon, whose son, Jeffrey Purdon, was gone for 22 months "The support definitely helped a lot Someone to talk to was only a phone call or e-mail away"

"I think it's great that they waited long enough for Soldiers to reconnect with their families before having a celebration to welcome them home," said Judy Clark, whose son, Kristopher, was wounded overseas and earned a Purple Heart

Kristopher helped plan Saturday's party

"It was a lot of work and it's great seeing it all come together,"� he said "It's going to be a good night"

The celebration was the culmination of 22 months of waiting for Crystal Hellkamp and her husband, Donavan Hellkamp Although it wasn't easy, Crystal and their three children learned how to play the waiting game

"We just lived day by day and prayed for the next holiday to be over so it would be closer for the time for him to come home,"� she said

For some, it was a night of triumph After encountering a a roadside bomb in Fallujah that resulted in a broken back, Adam Drechsel was able to walk into the VFW and enjoy the evening with everyone else He was overseas for six months before being wounded

"I was glad to come home,"� he admitted, "but I was disappointed to have to leave the guys behind"

That he is able to walk does not surprise him

"The first thing I made sure to do was wiggle my toes,"� he said

Since their July return, Soldiers have worked at getting on with their lives After 16 months in Iraq, what Aaron Johnson noticed most when he returned was, "How clean it is There's so much dust over there I missed the cooler weather"

Johnson is back at his job with UPS in Fargo

"Driving vehicles has been hard to get used to again, and being in crowded places,"� he said "It's the mindset you get used to, that you always have to be on your guard"

The event was capped off by a presentation of medals to the following Soldiers: Sgt Brian Kutter received the Army Achievement Award; Spc Kristopher Clark, Army commendation; Sgt Louis Karsnia, bronze star; and Lt. Col. Stroud, Purple Heart

By Susan Larson (Contact) | The Daily Journal
Article source: www.fergusfallsjournals.com

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Iowa Red Bull takes command of 34th Infantry Division

Posted: 2017-12-13  10:11 AM
Minnesota National Guard JOHNSTON, Iowa - Brig. Gen. Benjamin J. Corell, Deputy Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, assumed command of the 34th Infantry Division "Red Bulls" during a ceremony in Rosemount, Minnesota, on December 9, 2017.

Headquartered in Minnesota, the division has been commanded almost-exclusively by members of the Minnesota National Guard since 1968.

"Typically there's been very few people who have been allowed to command the 34th Infantry Division that didn't come from the state of Minnesota," Corell said.

Minnesota-based aviation unit honors storied division, enters into new, 'expeditionary' era

Posted: 2017-12-12  11:29 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade (ECAB), who recently celebrated a year full of achievements, have embraced a new name: Red Devils.

The St. Paul-based unit hosted its annual aviation brigade ball Dec. 9, at the Envision Event Center in Oakdale, Minnesota, where the unit's new logo was unveiled.

Soldiers of the 34th ECAB, which falls under and supports the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, will continue to wear the Red Bull insignia on their uniforms. However, they will now be known and referred to as the Red Devils, a name that pays homage to the division's historical accomplishments and fierce warfighting.

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.

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