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Minnesota National Guard
Getting to know you, just in case: Law enforcement and emergency responders converge at UMC for first-of-its kind exercise

Wednesday morning at UMC, security personnel spotted some suspicious activity near Robertson Hall, the former student residence hall that's now gutted and vacant A responding officer then observed someone run into the building carrying what looked like a firearm
The Crookston Police Department's Special Response Team was then called to the scene, entered the building and arrested some suspects But while inside, they observed what appeared to be a makeshift chemical laboratory encompassing multiple rooms

Then just about every possible emergency response agency from the area was called, most notably the Minnesota National Guard's 55th Civil Support Team Soon after, the team had a communications command post established in the parking lot behind Robertson Hall and the Kiehle Building Meanwhile, the area was sealed off and a sea of personnel from the Crookston Police Department, Polk County Sheriff's Office, Crookston Fire Department, Great Plains EMS, and Crookston, Polk County and University of Minnesota emergency management departments put appropriate emergency response measures into action

Relax, though, it was all just a drill

The "suspect" with the firearm and the others who were apprehended inside Robertson weren't suspects at all; they were UMC students enrolled in the Natural Resources Aviation Law Enforcement program who were recruited to serve as actors

Overseeing it all was LTC Matt Snyder, commander of the 55th (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Civil Support Team The team brought equipment similar to what they brought the last time they assisted with an emergency response in this area, when UND student Dru Sjodin disappeared in November 2003 With their communication trucks and satellite equipment, the 55th three years ago and again on Wednesday established an Internet linkage, digital mapping capabilities, and had a radio signal that could lock into almost any frequency
After the Special Response Team breached doors in Robertson and used "flash bang" devices to disorient the suspects inside, CPD Chief Tim Motherway said hazardous material teams, wearing full-cover "Class A" suits, determined that the lab was set up to make ricin, a chemical capable of causing massive deaths as a biological weapon

While inspecting the lab's multiple rooms, a member of the haz-mat team activated his personal alert siren, which echoed up and down the halls The siren, Motherway said, meant he was in some type of distress and was incapacitated Soon, he was being rushed down the main hall and outside, to a decontamination area, where his suit was cut off and his condition was assessed

While personnel practiced their decontamination skills nearby, Snyder said he thought the day's drill went very well Similar exercises will be conducted in other parts of the state as well, he said

"I talked to the 55th's regional coordinator about a year ago, and I said we have to do some of these training exercises in other parts of the state, not just the metro area," he said "That's what we're trying to do"

Although Wednesday's exercises focused on a doomsday scenario - biological warfare - Snyder said more than anything it was a chance for emergency responders from many agencies to get to know each other and work together

"The main purpose is simply to see each other, face to face, so if there's a real problem that requires a multi-agency response there will be some familiarity," he said "It also lets the 55th showcase our abilities and what we can bring to a situation"

By Mike Christopherson, Crookston Times


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Minnesota National Guard leaders visit traveling tribute in Austin

Posted: 2018-05-22  10:16 AM
Traveling Wall AUSTIN, Minn. - A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display May 16-20, in Austin and leaders of the 347th Regional Support Group took the opportunity to visit during the event's closing ceremony.

The display, dubbed the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, was hosted by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Austin and featured a near-replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be part of this humbling and moving tribute to our Vietnam veterans," said Col. Stephen Schemenauer. "The traveling Vietnam Wall is a powerful display, and this event provided an opportunity to meet, and thank, service members from WWII to present-day conflicts. Regardless of their branch of service, or the era or conflict in which they served, we all share a common bond."

Minnesota Aviators lead multi-state National Guard partnership for NTC rotation

Posted: 2018-05-21  03:51 PM
2-147 NTC FORT IRWIN, Calif. - The Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion is working together with aviation units from four different states to provide support to the Tennessee-based 278th Armored Calvary Regiment during a rotation at National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.

Making up Task Force Ragnar is Utah-based B Company, 1st Battalion, 211th Assault Reconnaissance Battalion; Nevada-based B Company, 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion; Michigan-based C Company, 3-238th GSAB; and Minnesota-based A, D, E and Headquarters Companies, 2-147th AHB and F Company, 1-189th GSAB.

"Early coordination with the units across four states combined with exceptional unit leadership and motivated Soldiers helped us to quickly build the task force when we closed on Fort Irwin," said Lt. Col. Kevin O'Brien, Task Force Commander. "I was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and teamwork of task force Soldiers. This was an outstanding training opportunity that challenged every Soldier to grow as individuals and units daily."

Deployed Minnesota Guardsman honors grandfather, Hmong heritage

Posted: 2018-05-17  09:57 AM
Brandon Xiong CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - "My heritage is Hmong," said 21 year-old Minnesota National Guard Spec. Brandon Xiong from his desk at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. "A low-key culture that originated from southern Asia. Hmong is not a place, but it is a people."

Xiong, the eldest grandson of the late Col. Song Leng Xiong, is deployed in Kuwait as an information technician for Area Support Group - Kuwait.

"We were not nomadic, but have been in many different conflicts," said Xiong. "Many places I go, I am questioned about my nationality and when answered, end up being even more confused. There is a movie called, "Gran Torino", where Clint Eastwood is introduced to the Hmong culture and I think it portrays the Hmong people not so terribly."

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.

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