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Minnesota National Guard
Returned Soldier happy to trade Iraq for Eagan this Thanksgiving

Returned Soldier happy to trade Iraq for Eagan this Thanksgiving

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It was a picture perfect Thanksgiving morning for little David and Bennie Conner, as they played Lincoln logs with their parents at grandma's house in Eagan

Outside a gentle snow fell, almost as if on cue, to usher in the holiday season But you could also see a military star hung in the window, a tell-tale sign that dad had been away and that this holiday would be better than the last

"It was scary because I was just about to have this baby," Becky Conner said as she reflected on last Thanksgiving

"And I had this other child And Dave was leaving to go to War"

Last Thanksgiving it was a rushed pizza dinner on the east coast as Becky bid farewell to her husband, Staff Sergeant David Conner He was headed to Iraq with the Minnesota National Guard's Bravo Company, the 1st Combined Armor Battalion, 194th Armor

"In the Anbar, Fallujah, Ramadi"

Dave rattled off the names of towns where the unit helped organize and train Iraqi police and provided security for high ranking officials

He was home only in spirit last Christmas, his photo placed on an empty plate at Becky's parent's dinner table And as her due date approached in March she could only hope Dave's leave would come through in time

"There were a couple times when my mom and I ended up at the hospital and we were trying to set up some video teleconferencing, in case he couldn't make it back, so he could watch it"

But Bennie waited until Dad arrived to be born, coming into the world on Saint Patrick's Day Dave got to see his newly expanded family two weeks before returning to the war zone

"Our experiences over the past year are vastly different," Dave offered

"She was here raising two kids and working a full time job and taking care of the liaison work while I was in Iraq with a bunch of other men at war"

On top of everything else Becky headed up the unit's family readiness group, serving as a liaison between families and the military command

"I tried to just help them all get through the deployment," Becky said, "This was my way of serving our country"

And Becky said she would have never been able to do it without the flexibility of her employer as she kept the balancing act going

Last month Dave's unit returned, and he came home for good He still had his Iraq traffic instincts with him

"The first day back I was frightened just because we were coming up to an intersection," Dave recalled of a simple drive down a street in Woodbury that for most would seem uneventful

"And I just reflexively thought back to the Anbar province," Dave recalled

"I reach for Becky and I'm like"

Becky, who was driving that day, picked up the story

"He was saying 'What are you doing?' because I was getting too close to this vehicle in another lane"

"And I look at him and say 'I don't know! What am I doing wrong'!"

They both heard in reintegrating seminars that routine events might be harrowing for those used to dodging cars packed with homemade bombs The skills Dave needed to win a Bronze Star in Iraq aren't exactly the same ones he'll need as a father of two boys

As Becky put it, "I told him once right now you're in a position where you are saying, 'No you can't have that knife, you can't have that gun'"

"And you have to come back and change that into, 'No you can't have a cookie'"

Baby Bennie has no idea what he's missed, and his big brother David closing in on age three, will make up for the lost time with his father Dave's confident his sons will understand why he had to miss this part of their lives

"I feel that the military is an institution that preserves everything that we have, our way of life," he said, "And it was just important to be a part of that"

Becky, after working with other National Guard families, says in a way the boys are lucky to go through this at such a young age

"There are a lot of other kids that are struggling and trying to get to know their dads," she said,

"And their dads are very different now And they don't understand why they're different from when they left"

Dave's different too He's more grateful than ever this Thanksgiving

"I thankful for all the support back in the state of Minnesota and thankful for my wife's company for supporting her and her boss And to her family"

"Mostly I'm thankful for my wife and my kids supporting me I'm thankful to be home"

By John Croman, KARE 11 News



(Copyright 2007 by KARE All Rights Reserved)
Article source: http://www.kare11.com/



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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.



Finding fellowship in the sacred mission

Posted: 2017-09-26  12:02 PM
Minnesota National Guard CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - One of the most difficult, most sacred, honorable duties in the military is one that people don't often think about. It takes compassion, empathy, care, and requires great resilience. It is one that when called upon to train for, they hope to rarely perform because it means another Soldier has been lost. It is the duty of casualty notification officer and casualty assistance officer.

About 45 Minnesota Army National Guard Soldiers came to Camp Ripley, Minnesota, on September 21-22, 2017, for a Reset Seminar to find fellowship in one specific thing they have in common: delivering the worst news in the Army.

When a Soldier dies at home or overseas, CNOs and CAOs must notify and help families through the process, including paperwork, benefits, and funeral arrangements.



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