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Minnesota National Guard
Women take to the skies on Christmas

While their families, children and friends back home sat down for Christmas Eve dinner, two all-female UH-60 Black Hawk crews woke up early Christmas morning and began preparing for a unique mission

Female Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment spent their Christmas Day executing a 100 percent female-run flight mission From the intelligence briefings in the morning, to the two four-woman flight crews, all the way to the fuel teams, the mission consisted of only women

Black Hawk pilot Capt Andrea Ourada, said the mission was not about busting open stereotypes or challenging the status quo, but rather about showing people how much women in the Army do already

"It's not about proving you can do the job you're already qualified to do, it's about how we have the capability to do it," Ourada said "Our Army is a lot more diverse than I think we realize"

Ourada flew in the lead aircraft with Pilot Chief Warrant Officer 4 Teresa Burgess and Crew Chiefs Staff Sgt Michelle Smith, and Sgt Leilani Aho The trail aircraft was piloted by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Angela Barros and Capt Phoebe Inigo with Crew Chiefs Sgt Michelle Aina and Sgt Crisaron Voeuth

The crews flew all over Baghdad picking up VIPs including US Rep Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota The crews also transported a general and several Soldiers during the general aviation support mission The mission went off just as planned, and while the women associated with the mission respected the unique nature of the flight, they wanted their fellow Soldiers to see the event as no big deal

"It's just another day at the office," Aina said before the flight

While an all-female mission might challenge the perception of combat gender roles in today's Army, Burgess said that's not what the flight was all about

"I don't think this will change any gender stereotypes that are already present, and I'm not here to change any minds," she said "We are doing it because we can"

Ourada added that the Black Hawk doesn't care who runs the controls and soon a flight of this nature will be commonplace

"It can be the norm," she said "That aircraft operates the same way whether it's a male or female behind the controls" The crew executed its Christmas Day mission and returned safely with no fanfare or exposure The mission appeared just like any other

However, Barros said the mission was a reminder that there is still a great deal of work to be done before it can be considered just another mission

"Women in the military have overcome some huge barriers," she said "I believe this mission will be an eye opener, but unfortunately, I'm afraid the stereotypes will always be there It's how our society was brought up Even at the end of 2007, [we're considering this] an historic event"

The National Guard unit houses Soldiers from Washington, Minnesota and Hawaii

Not only was the mission all female, but all three states were represented by the women executing it

Lt. Col. Gregory Thingvold, 2-147 Commander, commented on how important the flight was, for not only the National Guard, but for young women back home

"This demands attention," he said "Young ladies need good role models in their life Our culture twists around to a fault what women should strive for in life Here is an opportunity to showcase women in combat executing a combat mission I want young women around this country to see these amazing women in action"

Burgess said that no matter what this mission does to the Army's gender stereotypes, it is still very important to the youth of the United States to see what women in the Army do on a daily basis

"The one thing I hope this mission does is show little girls that they can do this," she said "A lot of them don't seem to know this"

By Sgt Dale Sweetnam
Task Force 49 Public Affairs Office


Dec. 25, 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Regiment All-Women Flight photo gallery

Video interviews with Capt. Ourada, Chief Warrant Officer Barros, and Capt. Inigo about working on an all-female helicopter crew.

B-roll video taken during mission.



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Minnesota National Guard leaders visit traveling tribute in Austin

Posted: 2018-05-22  10:16 AM
Traveling Wall AUSTIN, Minn. - A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display May 16-20, in Austin and leaders of the 347th Regional Support Group took the opportunity to visit during the event's closing ceremony.

The display, dubbed the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, was hosted by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Austin and featured a near-replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be part of this humbling and moving tribute to our Vietnam veterans," said Col. Stephen Schemenauer. "The traveling Vietnam Wall is a powerful display, and this event provided an opportunity to meet, and thank, service members from WWII to present-day conflicts. Regardless of their branch of service, or the era or conflict in which they served, we all share a common bond."



Minnesota Aviators lead multi-state National Guard partnership for NTC rotation

Posted: 2018-05-21  03:51 PM
2-147 NTC FORT IRWIN, Calif. - The Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion is working together with aviation units from four different states to provide support to the Tennessee-based 278th Armored Calvary Regiment during a rotation at National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.

Making up Task Force Ragnar is Utah-based B Company, 1st Battalion, 211th Assault Reconnaissance Battalion; Nevada-based B Company, 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion; Michigan-based C Company, 3-238th GSAB; and Minnesota-based A, D, E and Headquarters Companies, 2-147th AHB and F Company, 1-189th GSAB.

"Early coordination with the units across four states combined with exceptional unit leadership and motivated Soldiers helped us to quickly build the task force when we closed on Fort Irwin," said Lt. Col. Kevin O'Brien, Task Force Commander. "I was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and teamwork of task force Soldiers. This was an outstanding training opportunity that challenged every Soldier to grow as individuals and units daily."



Deployed Minnesota Guardsman honors grandfather, Hmong heritage

Posted: 2018-05-17  09:57 AM
Brandon Xiong CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - "My heritage is Hmong," said 21 year-old Minnesota National Guard Spec. Brandon Xiong from his desk at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. "A low-key culture that originated from southern Asia. Hmong is not a place, but it is a people."

Xiong, the eldest grandson of the late Col. Song Leng Xiong, is deployed in Kuwait as an information technician for Area Support Group - Kuwait.

"We were not nomadic, but have been in many different conflicts," said Xiong. "Many places I go, I am questioned about my nationality and when answered, end up being even more confused. There is a movie called, "Gran Torino", where Clint Eastwood is introduced to the Hmong culture and I think it portrays the Hmong people not so terribly."



Month of the Military Child recognizes contributions of military kids

Posted: 2018-04-07  01:54 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the contributions and sacrifices military children make so their family members can serve. An estimated 15,000 children in Minnesota have been affected by the deployment of a parent.

"Military children bear a lot while their family members serve," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "It is up to us to support these resilient kids and help to lessen their burden."

An event to honor military kids in Minnesota will take place April 13, 2018, at the Mall of America rotunda from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Activities will include appearances by the Teddy Bear Band and meet and greets with Nickelodeon characters.



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