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Minnesota National Guard
Task Force Aviation: Flying High Over the Twin Cities

By Pvt Cassandra Monroe
135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Iowa National Guard


ST PAUL, Minn " Task Force Aviation, based at Holman Field near the St Paul Municipal Airport, stands ready for any rapid reaction air transport needs that may come their way during the Republican National Convention

Task Force Aviation, made up of Minnesota National Guard aviators and aircraft from surrounding states, is supporting local and federal law enforcement agencies by providing rapid, aviation-lift capability in the unlikely event a significant incident occurs  

These aviators have been preparing for this mission for months

"We put the plan together, and figured out what we could and could not support, helicopter wise," said Col Mike Huddleston, the state Army Aviation officer for the Minnesota National Guard "We've made sure we put the right crews with the right mix, as well as understanding what the other sister agencies are bringing forward for supporting the convention"

One big advantage these Minnesota National Guard aviators have is that they know this area very well, said Huddleston "We can fly just about anywhere, and get there quicker than anyone else, as well as get into the area fairly easily," he said

While speed is important, so is the unit's ability to move people and equipment  "We've got the capability to transport a good number of equipment and personnel," said Huddleston "A UH-60 Black Hawk can fit about 12 people, while a CH-47 Chinook can carry about 30 to 35 people"

Sgt Nathaniel Ernst is a crew chief whose duties include aircraft maintenance, preparing the aircraft for flight operations and controlling passengers on the aircraft during flights

"We're expected to respond between 15 to 30 minutes," said Ernst "We're here on 12-hours shifts, so anytime a call comes in, we'll be prepared"
           
Preparing for this mission was not without its challenges A big concern was getting enough aircraft and personnel ready to go for the mission, since some Minnesota aviation units are deployed or waiting for aircraft to return from deployments, said Ernst

"Our team borrowed aircraft from different states, such as North Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan in order to prepare for the mission," he said
           
Although some Task Force Aviation members just returned from deployment, their transition has gone well, which helped them prepare for this mission


"We recently got back from Iraq about a month ago, and we were given the word back then to start making initial plans for that the convention," said Chief Warrant Officer Curtis Skoog, a standardization instructor pilot with the 2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 147th Aviation

"It's great to be back The deployment went really well for the unit You want to get back with your families and reestablish relationships So coming back to work has been an easy transition We've been planning on this convention for a couple months," said Skoog

Overseas deployments have increased these aviators' skills and experience, and helped them prepare for this mission  "It's a breath of fresh air to give crews a left and right limit, and you know they're going to take that ball and run with the product you need, which is supporting the task force commander for anything he may need," said Huddleston, of some of the crew's recent deployments
           
"I think as a whole, were doing an outstanding job," said Huddleston "We're like the lifeguard, you never need them, but when you do, we're right here The crew has a small frame of time to get out and be there, ready to respond We're excited to support this event and we're just having a lot of fun"

September 2, Task Force Aviation: Flying High Over the Twin Cities - Low-Res




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Willmar-based National Guardsmen to return home Saturday

Posted: 2016-08-25  03:26 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn.-

More than 150 Soldiers from the Minnesota Army National Guard's 682nd Engineer Battalion will return to Willmar Saturday following a mobilization in support of Operation Spartan Shield.

"The Soldiers of Task Force Wild excelled in their mission, and were recognized across the theater for their hard work and dedication," said Lt. Col. Keith Ferdon, battalion commander. "I couldn't be prouder of how our Soldiers represented the State of Minnesota."

The mission of the Task Force was to provide horizontal and vertical engineer construction in support of coalition forces in the region. The Soldiers oversaw the planning and execution of 285 construction projects with an approximate total value of 20.2 million dollars in seven countries: Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.



Minnesota Identification Card will no longer grant access to Department of Defense installations

Posted: 2016-08-19  01:53 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 19, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn.- With the implementation of the "REAL ID Act" going into effect at Department of Defense installations nationwide, access will no longer be granted to Minnesotans carrying standard state-issued identification cards. Beginning this week, Minnesota residents will be required to have an approved escort or use alternative forms of identification to access the following installations:

- 133rd Airlift Wing, St. Paul
- 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth
- 934th Joint Base, Minneapolis
- Military Facility at Fort Snelling

Without a 'Real ID,' access will be granted only to individuals with an approved escort (i.e. a service member with a Common Access Card), or carrying one of the approved alternative forms of acceptable ID.



General John W. Vessey, Jr. - The 10th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Posted: 2016-08-19  08:22 AM
Gen. John W. Vessey Jr. General John W. Vessey, Jr., a former member of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Red Bull Infantry Division and the 10th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away August 18, 2016, at the age of 94.

General John W. Vessey, Jr. was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 29 June 1922. He enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard in May 1939 while still in high school, becoming a member of Headquarters, 59th Field Artillery Brigade, 34th Infantry Division. He was only 16 and fibbed about his age to join. With other members of his unit he was called to active duty in February 1941. When war came, the 34th became the first American division sent to Europe, where it initially fought in North Africa and then in Italy. A natural leader, Vessey rose quickly in the enlisted ranks until 6 May 1944 when, pinned down on the Anzio Beachhead amidst high casualties, the 21-year old battery first sergeant was given a battlefield commission and sent forward to direct artillery fire.

Vessey decided to stay in the Army after war. During his first 30 years of military service, he spent most of his time in combat divisions. In addition to his World War II assignment with the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division in North Africa and Italy, Vessey served with the 4th Infantry Division and 3rd Armored Division in Germany, the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam and was commanding general of the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Carson, Colorado.

He attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He also graduated from the University of Maryland. His love of flying prompted him to earn his wings, which he always wore proudly. When he graduated from the Army Helicopter School in 1970, he was 15 years older than the next oldest student.



Message of hope and healing stands out during fun run

Posted: 2016-08-18  10:49 AM
Power of One Fun Run CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - A 5K run/walk event was held for Minnesota National Guard service members Saturday at Camp Ripley.

This event is one of two in the series of fun runs hosted by the Resilience, Risk Reduction & Suicide Prevention, or R3SP.

"Soldiers truly enjoyed this alternative training option. The smiles that were on the participants faces when they crossed the finish line showed they had fun," said Sgt. 1st Class Jeanette Chaffee of R3SP.



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