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Minnesota National Guard
Lt. James Reese Europe: Black American, Citizen-Soldier, American Hero

Black Americans have contributed much to both American culture and American security One truly remarkable Black American and National Guard Soldier who embodied the essence of both these contributions is 1st Lt James Reese Europe of the 369th Infantry "Harlem Hellfighters"

Europe was born Feb 22, 1881 in Mobile, Ala From the time he was born, he was immersed in music, as both his parents were musicians At age 10, his family moved to Washington, DC where he studied violin under the direction of Assistant Marine Corps Director Enrico Hurlei

He continued to pursue musical greatness " writing scores, directing orchestras and eventually evolving his music into the ragtime and jazz music revolution that was taking place shortly after the turn of the 19th century

The most famous of the orchestras he directed was the Clef Club The Clef Club was one of the most unusual African-American organizations of the time because it was part fraternal organization and part union

The Clef Club Orchestra appeared at Carnegie Hall for the first time May 2, 1912 They were the first jazz band to ever play Carnegie Hall They were so well received that they returned in 1913 and 1914 One American writer said that popular music first invaded the concert auditorium when Europe played Carnegie Hall

During his time as the orchestra director, Europe pacified White audiences who couldn't accept that Black musicians could actually read music He acquired the newest music quickly and then led his orchestra to learn every note on every page When appearing in front of White audiences, the Clef Club played with no music in front of them While this played to the audiences' false sense of superiority, it simultaneously gave deserving Black musicians the exposure that landed them more jobs

Jim Europe met Vernon and Irene Castle at a private society party where the Clef Club Orchestra was playing The Castles were a popular dance couple at the time, because the nation perceived them as bringing an element of class to the scene of ragtime music dancing After meeting Europe, the Castles decided to make him their band leader They also hired fellow black composer Ford Dabney as their musical arranger While with the Castles, Europe was instrumental in the premier and success of their most famous dance creation, the fox trot

Europe embodied the spirit of the Citizen-Solder during World War I, when he enlisted as a private in the 15th New York National Guard Regiment, which later became the 369th Infantry Regiment He then passed the officer's examination to be commissioned as a lieutenant After obtaining his commission, he was asked by his commander to form a military band as part of the combat unit

The 369th was the first Black American unit to land in Europe The unit experienced intense racism at every level during their train-up in Camp Wadsworth in Spartanburg, SC and yet more down range It was finally decided Apr 8, 1918 to assign the unit to the French Army for duration of the United States' participation in the war The men were issued French helmets and brown leather belts and pouches, although they continued to wear their US uniforms

When the unit arrived in France on New Year's Day 1918, it was the first African-American combat unit to set foot on French soil During their march into one French city, Europe's band added stylish syncopation to a tune for several minutes until the French Soldiers snapped to attention, realizing that the tune was France's National Anthem Following a performance, some French Soldiers were so baffled by what they heard that they asked to examine the horns of the 369th's Band, in disbelief of the sounds that came out of them Europe's band entertained troops and citizens in every city they visited and was received with great enthusiasm

The 369th endured 191 unbroken days of combat, won 171 decorations for bravery, more than any other American unit, and took special pride in the name the French gave them - the Hellfighters After the fighting was finally over, they came home to New York on February 17, 1919, to a victory parade up 5th Avenue to Harlem Thousands of New Yorkers, white as well as black, poured into the streets to cheer them

During his deployment, Europe co-composed "On Patrol In No Man's Land" The song quickly became a favorite among US veterans He continually worked to improve the lives of his Soldiers and his fellow musicians, who were subjected to the awfulness of Jim Crow racism

Europe ironically survived being shot at and gassed in the trenches of France only to die on May 9, 1919, at the hands of one of his own men A deranged drummer named Herbert Wright cut Europe's jugular vein with a penknife while the bandleader was preparing for a show at Mechanics Hall in Boston Wright had been angry because he thought Europe favored his twin brother over him At the time of his death, he was the best-known Black American bandleader in the United States He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery

By Sgt Joe Roos, 34th Infantry Division Public Affairs
February, 2008 Black History Month

Thomas L Morgan, en.wikipedia.org and wwwarlingtoncemeterynet provided information that contributed to this article
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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.

Forging a path to career success

Posted: 2018-03-16  08:45 AM
Col. Angela Steward-Randle ST. PAUL, Minn. - Col. Angela Steward-Randle grew up in a military family - her father served in the Army on active duty - but it was a chance encounter with a friend at college that led her to want to make the military a career.

"My story is no different than many others," Steward-Randle, the Director of Human Resources, Manpower and Personnel for the Minnesota National Guard said. "I was in college and looking for financial resources to help pay for it."

Her college friend suggested they attend a summer training with the Reserve Officer Training Corps that had no obligation and could earn them some money. The friend never ended up going, but Steward-Randle did. After earning recognition as the top honor graduate and receiving an offer of a scholarship, she was hooked.

Minnesota Guardsman Receives Award for Combating Drugs in his Community

Posted: 2018-03-09  03:13 PM
Counterdrug WOODBURY, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Benjamin Kroll, an analyst with the Minnesota National Guard's Counterdrug Task Force who is assigned to work with the Hennepin County Sherriff's Office was recognized for his achievements as the Analyst of the Year during the 2018 Minnesota Association of Crime and Intelligence Analysts Training Symposium in Woodbury, Minnesota, March 7, 2018.

Through a partnership with Minnesota law enforcement agencies throughout the state, the Minnesota National Guard Counterdrug Task Force (MNCDTF) supports the anti-drug initiatives to counter all primary drug threats and vulnerabilities through the effective application of available assets, said Maj. Jon Dotterer, Counterdrug Coordinator for the State of Minnesota. The goal for the program is to support federal, state, tribal, and local agencies in the detection, disruption, interdiction, and curtailment of illicit drugs.

Kroll is one of sixteen service members on the Counterdrug Task Force that provides this force-multiplying service to our communities against illicit drug-use. With the information that law enforcement provide through their patrols and daily operations, Kroll and his colleagues across the state assist by putting together a figurative picture with all of the gathered information which aids in identifying how to move forward with legal action to deter or prevent the sale or use of illegal narcotic drugs.

Women Opened Doors in Minnesota National Guard

Posted: 2018-03-08  09:05 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - "The battlefront is no place for women to be," said Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Kurtzweg, 125th Field Artillery, in an article published in 1976. "There are certain jobs girls say they can do, but they just can't do ... the battlefront is no place for women to be. Other countries in the world use women in combat, but the U.S. has not come around to that way of thinking." Kathy Berg, a New Ulm reporter summarized at the time. "So women in the New Ulm unit take care of personnel files and pay records and leave the fighting to the men."

The Minnesota National Guard has "come around to that way of thinking" since those early days of gender integration. In the last 44 years women have made momentous strides toward inclusion and acceptance. Their accomplishments are testimony to their fortitude and the progressive development of the Minnesota National Guard.

When an accomplished female Soldier is credited with breaking barriers she will often pass that honor to the women that preceded her. Brig. Gen. Johanna Clyborne is such a leader. She acknowledges that she is one of the first females in the Minnesota National Guard who has held key leadership roles, however she sees it differently. "I feel responsible for all women in uniform," said Clyborne. "Women before me opened the door, now I've cleared the room. It's up to the women behind me to hold the room."

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