/*********************************************** * Chrome CSS Drop Down Menu- (c) Dynamic Drive DHTML code library (www.dynamicdrive.com) * This notice MUST stay intact for legal use * Visit Dynamic Drive at http://www.dynamicdrive.com/ for full source code ***********************************************/
Minnesota National Guard
The Face of Today's National Guard

Houston Soldier part of historic all-female Iraq mission

HOUSTON, Minn - Staff Sgt Michelle Smith is part of the face of today's frontline armed forces: volunteer, part-time and increasingly female

Smith is among the 1,590 women in the Minnesota National Guard, where she has served since 1990 She is on a year-long deployment in Iraq

On Christmas day, Smith was part of a historic all-woman mission Two Black Hawk helicopters with women at the controls and women crew chiefs - including Smith - at the 240H door machine guns flew the "Baghdad shuffle," shuttling troops and important cargo from base to base around the Iraqi capital

Not only were all those on board women, so were the Soldiers who planned the mission, briefed them beforehand and later refueled the helicopters

Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, spokesman for the Minnesota National Guard, said he found no evidence of any other exclusively female missions in the guard's history In 2005, an all-woman crew in southwest Asia flew a combat mission on a C-130 transport plane, a first for the Air Force

Smith said they didn't set out to prove anything except the unit had enough female troops to do it

Nearly a quarter of the Soldiers in the 2-147 attack helicopter battalion are women, compared with 134 percent for the Minnesota National Guard as a whole That's partly because certain jobs - such as infantry and artillery - are off-limits to women by federal law

But on the modern battlefield, which has no "front line," all Soldiers can see combat, Olson said

"We don't get shot at a lot," Smith said "But it does happen"

Smith won't talk about close calls She doesn't want her family at home worrying about her

Seven months into her year-long deployment, she's been on leave the past two weeks at her home near Houston, with friend Patty Burfield and the 11 cats, two dogs, chickens and goats that roam the spacious backyard

On the garage is a sign with a dove, proclaiming, "Pray for peace Act for peace"

That was Burfield's doing, something she put up before Smith left - "to make people think about it as they go by"

Burfield is opposed to the war, but supportive and proud of Smith and her service

As far as the war, they agree to disagree

Smith was scheduled to fly to Iraq today to finish her deployment It is the third time the 38-year-old Minnesota City native has been mobilized

The first was in 1991, shortly after she joined the guard

"The day I graduated from basic training and (advanced individual training), the sergeant got on the bus and said, "˜Privates, we have something to tell you,'" she said

Within days, Smith, then with a military police unit, was off to Fort McCoy and then Saudi Arabia for the Gulf War

In 1995, when her MP unit was disbanded, Smith had to find a new specialty

Since the infantry wasn't an option, she chose to fly

"I'm not a sit-behind-a-desk kind of gal," she said

She was deployed in January 2004 to Texas for 18 months to replace an active-duty unit sent to Iraq Smith volunteered for that assignment as well as her current one

When not on active duty, Smith works for a civilian contractor as a range safety officer, helping other troops at Fort McCoy pass their weapons training

It's the latest stop on a varied career path that has included factories, a dairy farm and a calf ranch "I like to experience lots of different things," Smith said

Now she has figured out her calling: a large-animal veterinarian She's used her down time in Iraq to research vet schools and plans to enroll at Winona State University when she returns to finish her undergraduate degree

Believe it or not, she is looking forward to retiring from the military, something she plans to do in three years

It will be the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next, she said

"I love the military I love the job that I do," she said "I'm ready to continue on with my life"

Chris Hubbuch
La Crosse (Wis) Tribune

Article source: http://www.winonadailynews.com/

Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

Minnesota State Fair Military Appreciation Day to recognize women veterans

Posted: 2018-08-27  12:34 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The Minnesota State Fair's eighth annual Military Appreciation Day will take place Tuesday, August 28, and provide an educational opportunity for all fairgoers to learn about Minnesota's military community. This year's theme is honoring Minnesota's women veterans.

"The Minnesota State Fair is a great opportunity to bring our community together to show appreciation for the service and sacrifice of our state's veterans," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, The Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "This year, I am proud to stand with women veterans as we highlight their stories and contributions to our armed forces."

Minnesota Guardsmen learn survival skills, train with Norwegian counterparts

Posted: 2018-07-03  01:36 PM
NOREX 45 Over the course of 10 days, 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard who traveled to Norway June 17-26, 2018, for the 45th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange learned valuable survival skills and shared their knowledge with members of the Norwegian Home Guard. This year's exchange was the second to take place during the summer months in the history of the longest-running military partnership between two nations.

"It was a great experience for both the Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard," said Capt. 'Kiwi' HorgA�ien, the senior Norwegian instructor. "A cultural exchange, a social exchange and military exchange all packed into one."

The 45th exchange got off to a late start, with flight delays causing the trip to be shortened from its normal length of two weeks. The delay meant that the Minnesota Guardsmen jumped right into training, heading out to the field after just a few hours of sleep.

133rd Airlift Wing Emphasizes Combat Readiness Training

Posted: 2018-06-29  10:48 AM
Alpena ALPENA, Michigan - Approximately 300 U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 133rd Airlift Wing participated in a readiness exercise at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Alpena, Mich.

The exercise, tagged as Iron Ore, was designed test the Airmen abilities to set up operations at an unfamiliar location and receive in depth training on Ability-To-Survive and Operate (ATSO) principles while supporting airlift and aeromedical flight operations.

To ensure mission success and readiness, Airmen had to complete training at home station prior to leaving for Alpena. Some of this training included weapons qualification, gas mask fit testing, Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) familiarization, self-aid and buddy care and career field training.

Red Bulls Kickoff Division Warfighter

Posted: 2018-06-13  01:38 PM
DIV WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - "A Warfighter is an exercise that allows the Division to evaluate their ability to maneuver assets in a battle," said Master Sgt. Greg Weaver, the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. "It is designed to focus on particular areas and specific objectives to be evaluated or tested."

The Division has geared its' planning and training efforts in preparation for Warfighter since July 2017. Coordinating transportation for Soldiers and equipment was often on the mind of Maj. David Johansson, the logistics officer for the 34th ID. With the coordination of Johansson and his team, troops and equipment all converged on Camp Atterbury, enlisting the help of 89 railcars, 280 tractor-trailers, and nearly 50 buses for the movement.

"I like to say my job is to 'quiet the noise'". Johansson continued, "The noise being a real life logistical problem that could impede the exercise."

Article archive