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Minnesota National Guard
WWII Battalion Marks 67 Years Since Its Call to Arms

It was 67 years ago today, Feb 10, 1941, that the 125th Field Artillery Battalion (with headquarters at the Duluth Armory on London Road) was inducted into federal service These were Minnesota National Guard members: some had just graduated from high school; others had seen some army experience each summer with two weeks' training at Camp Ripley (located in Little Falls, Minn)

Officers and enlisted men were immediately told to notify their families, employers and business associates that they were on alert to enter combat readiness and maneuvers for at least 10 months in the bayous of Louisiana

Within two weeks, orders came down for three of the batteries to report to the Armory (and the rest to the Shrine Auditorium) and to start packing their gear In the meantime, an advanced detail of 15 army vehicles and 20 men had left for a three-day trip to set up tents and quarters in the muddy grounds of Camp Claiborne, La

I was part of that advance detail, along with my dad, George Watts [Watts and his dad were one of three father/son pairs to go]

Then, on or about March 1, the rest of the men left Close to 600 National Guardsmen from Duluth and the surrounding area marched from the Armory down London Road to Superior Street and made their way to the Depot At the Depot, they boarded a troop train bound for the Deep South For most of us young boys, it was the first time we'd left Minnesota

Arriving at Camp Claiborne during the rainy season, living conditions were between fair and poor One thing favorable, however, was the fact that most of the men knew each other: Some had been school classmates; others had been together at Camp Ripley

For the next 10 months, the troops went on maneuvers and had hours of training with French 75s, which were later replaced with heavier firepower [Photos at Veterans' Memorial Hall show the men training with World War I-era equipment - including their helmets - and dealing with a major flood while they were there] It wasn't all work and no play, however If you behaved yourselves, passes were issued to a local carnival or maybe a tour of New Orleans for three days

Then, on Dec 7, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor

This historic event changed the lives of millions of young men and their families Our 10 months training was suddenly over Every man was wondering, What next? Enlisted men older than 40 could be discharged, including my father Officers were to wait for orders Many of the troops were sent home on leave to say goodbye to family and employers

Off to war

At this time, the first and second battalions were split up The first battalion of the 125th Field Artillery was attached to the 34th "Red Bull" Division and shipped off from Fort Dix, NJ for the European theater of operations in early February 1942

Leaving the United States with new recruits and draftees by ship, we were slightly nervous as our convoy of ships - which included four destroyers, a large air-craft carrier, two battleships and several transports - was constantly harassed by German submarines However, we arrived safely in Belfast, Northern Ireland We were finally billeted in Portrush, and later settled in Newton Stewart for training and getting properly equipped for combat

After leaving Ireland in the fall, we crossed the rough North Sea and had a short stop in England before setting sail for north Africa

Our ship convoy was again bothered by German subs and, after many close calls and two transport ships hit, our units passed the Rock of Gibraltar on New Year's Eve and reached Oran, north Africa, Jan 2, 1943 The 34th Division task force had already invaded Algiers on Nov 7, 1942

Our so-called vacation was over as we entered the combat zone

It was our job to protect the infantry We had the big guns so we fired ahead with the aim of knocking out the enemy's guns Some of our guys drove trucks up to the front line with supplies and ammunition Others, like Bud Freeman, worked with the forward observers Bud was a radio operator (Later on, he got a concussion and ended up being a guard for the German prisoners of war in Nebraska, some of the very men we captured)

After chasing Erwin Rommel, the German commander, through the deserts around Kasserine Pass and Fondouk in Tunisia, the biggest battle was at Hill 609 There were heavy casualties on both sides In the end, thousands of German Soldiers surrendered and the Tunisian campaign ended May 13, 1943

By Bob Watts,
Budgeteer News

Article source: http://www.DuluthBudgeteer.com/articles/rss.cfm?id=21605

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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
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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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