/*********************************************** * 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

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.

Article archive