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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/



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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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