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Minnesota National Guard
We're Pilots-No Problem

Capt Andrea Ourada wears a 9mm Beretta semi-automatic pistol in a shoulder holster, wryly decorated with a pink "Princess" sticker She also has good jewelry The latest piece is a delicately wrought Combat Action Badge The silver sword-and-wreath was awarded for direct-fire involvement as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot

Ourada's unit, the Army's 2-147 Assault Helicopter Battalion, recently flew a combat-conditions mission unique in American history: The mission-involving two Black Hawks, each with two pilots and two door gunners-was carried out entirely by women, right down to the pre-mission crew flight briefings

"It was exciting," says Ourada, 29 "But it was also routine We're pilots-no problem There isn't any question about our abilities"

Despite Pentagon regulations designed to limit their role in combat, more and more women are placing their lives in peril in service of their country Ourada doesn't talk about it much, or even worry about it The members of her outfit fly day and night, over all kinds of terrain They get shot at a lot, and they shoot back: Several crew chiefs, who also serve as door gunners, are female

The 2-147's pilots and crew handle a variety of missions Most of the flying is called "the Baghdad Shuffle" and involves moving troops, other American and Iraqi personnel, and small, "high-value" packages around the country

Less commonly, Ourada's unit will drop infantrymen in the countryside, then recover them later, after sweeps against Iraqi insurgents Ourada recalls vividly the mission that earned her the Combat Action Badge: "I was on the aircraft controls The lead aircraft came over the radio and said, "˜Taking fire, breaking left!' Everybody in our cockpit started looking, asking, "˜Where is it, where is it?'"

Suddenly, Ourada spotted tracer fire, dazzlingly bright through her night-vision goggles "I said, "˜Three o'clock, three o'clock, three o'clock!' We were taking fire from multiple sources, and it was pretty intense We were close enough that I could actually see enemy personnel with weapons"

As Ourada identified the source, her gunner started pounding the insurgents with machine-gun fire Though it felt longer, she says, the whole engagement probably lasted less than 10 seconds

"It's an adrenaline rush that cannot be compared to anything else," Ourada says "It was almost like celebrating How do you explain that?"

Yet as she was looking at the muzzle flashes and the incoming tracers, she thought, "Wow, I need to call home more"

In the course of the yearlong mission in Iraq, the personnel of the 2-147 will get to go home once, for 15 days

For Ourada, this means getting back to the farm where she grew up, near the tiny town of Lucan in southwest Minnesota "We had a dairy farm," she says, "and every day, no matter what else was going on, you had to do the chores"

Ourada is the oldest of five children and the only daughter Growing up around a bunch of roughneck brothers, Ourada says, "I never felt incapable of protecting myself If I've got to fight, I'll fight"

That strength was tested when Ourada's brother Daniel was killed in a horrendous automobile accident six years ago She was serving in the National Guard at the time and was considering becoming a pilot, but the tragedy-and its effect on her family-wrenched her life into painful focus Ourada always had been driven to excel, but suddenly it seemed much more important to have clear goals When she was accepted to flight school, she decided to attend

Two years later, Ourada says, "I was right at the top of the class Then came the second anniversary of Daniel's death I went into a slump I was having a really hard time If I hadn't come out of it, I don't know what would have happened But then Mom called She said the whole family was coming down for my graduation I thought, "˜Oh, my god, I can't let them down'"

She graduated with honors

Last month, Ourada was running an errand at Balad and stopped in at Charlie Company of the 7-101 Aviation Regiment, a medevac unit comprised mainly of square-chinned male pilots When she walked into the operations shack, she got a lot of "Hey, honey, I'm a pilot" comments from the guys standing around the briefing table

A friend of Ourada's said, "You know, she landed her Black Hawk in Sadr City last week in a compound about the size of this table"

Eyebrows went up

"You're a pilot?" asked one of the square chins

"Oooh, she can hover," said another

Despite the teasing, they were impressed-and invited her to Charlie Company's Saturday-night karaoke extravaganza Why not? As far as Ourada is concerned, there's nothing she can't do

"The problem I see is the perception girls have growing up," she says "The limitations are not real-we can do the things we dream about Of all the jobs somebody might think females wouldn't do, maybe flying in combat in Iraq is one of them But here we are We're doing it So can you Or you can do anything else you want"

US Women In The Military

7465 women served in Vietnam, most of them as nurses

195,605 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001

25,243 women are currently deployed to war zones

105 women have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001

John Camp is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of 23 best-selling novels written under the pen name John Sandford
Article source: www.parade.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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