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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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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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