| More than 1,000 Minnesota National Guard members given big send-off on Iraq mission
By Tad Vezner email@example.com
Flags were raised and tears fell as more than 1,000 Minnesota Soldiers received their official send-off to Iraq on Tuesday
Row upon row of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Red Bull Infantry stood at attention on the floor of St Paul's Roy Wilkins Auditorium, with thousands of family members - peering down from the balconies - surrounding them in a valley of community support
The event had all the trimmings of a typical deployment: raucous applause for a live rendition of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA"; the cries of babies breaking the silence of the opening prayer; accolades and salutes from dignitaries
But all present - many of whom have been deployed more than once - called it the largest such ceremony they'd ever seen Red Bull emblems, a full two stories high, were projected on the walls, and the event was followed by a steak dinner billed as the "largest single-sitting meal ever served at the RiverCentre complex," with more than 7,000 people dining, courtesy of the St Paul-based Serving Our Troops organization
"Everyone at this hall tonight has heard the phrase 'freedom isn't free' The heroes in front of us are paying way more than their share of the tab," said Gov Tim Pawlenty, commander-in-chief of the Minnesota National Guard
"War should be the last option But the world also needs to know this: When America goes to war, America wins," he added, garnering his speech's first hearty round of applause
Minutes later, division commander Maj Gen Richard Nash appeared emotional when addressing the men and women sitting before him
"With no disrespect to our predecessors, these Soldiers are my greatest generation," Nash said, his voice breaking slightly "They have stood up and said, 'Send me' "
In all, 1,037 Soldiers will depart this week for Fort Lewis, Wash, to undergo training before heading to Iraq in April A third of those to be deployed have served in Iraq or Afghanistan before, and a select few have been called up two or three times
Some family members could not sit still for the ceremony
"She's a lot happier here," Terri Kemp said apologetically to her husband, Sgt 1st Class Rich Kemp, as their 2-year-old daughter, Erica, crawled on his lap in one of the back rows
"It's going to be hard leaving them behind," said Kemp, 49, of Brooklyn Park A 27-year veteran of the Guard, Kemp has seen friends deployed to the war zone, but he will depart himself for the first time Friday
"It's something you train all your life for It's something you feel you should do - so many have gone before me," he added
The troops come from 273 Minnesota communities Fifty-seven are from St Paul, more than any other city
The Soldiers include 425 from the Rosemount-based division's headquarters; 350 from the Inver Grove Heights-based special troops battalion; 50 special troops battalion Soldiers stationed in Faribault; 43 from the Rosemount-based division band; and 169 from the Stillwater-based military police company
Military officials have touted the mission as the Red Bulls' most important They will be responsible for command of some 16,000 coalition forces in a full third of Iraq, leading US operations in eight of Iraq's 18 provinces - an area stretching from Baghdad to the southern border and east to parts of the border with Iran
The Iraqi police and military have taken over day-to-day patrolling in the region, leaving coalition forces in a support role US forces will primarily be responsible for helping to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure and improving government stability
The Red Bulls are scheduled to return to Minnesota by February 2010
In May 2007, about 2,600 members of the 34th's 1st Brigade Combat Team returned to Minnesota after a 16-month tour in Iraq; nine did not make it home Between operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, 13 members of the 34th have been killed and 168 have been wounded
Tad Vezner can be reached at 651-228-5461
Article source: http://www.twincities.com/
Camp Ripley earns top environmental award
Posted: 2017-04-26 02:09 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Department of Defense announced that Camp Ripley was selected as the winner of the Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for Natural Resources Conservation, Large Installation.
The awards recognize individuals, teams and installations for their exceptional environmental achievements and innovative, cost-effective environmental practices.
"The winners' efforts strengthen the Department of Defense's position as a resourceful environmental steward, both at home and abroad, and demonstrate our continued commitment to fulfilling mission needs through advanced environmental practices and technologies," stated James A. MacStravic, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
Minnesota Guardsman finds work with victims in the military and the local community rewarding
Posted: 2017-04-26 10:57 AM
COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Nicquie Neely has been working with victims of sexual assault for four years in the Minnesota National Guard and also volunteers as a victim advocate in the community. As a victim advocate, it's her job to believe and support victims through a difficult process that can often involve extensive medical care and legal proceedings.
"Ever since I joined the Guard and heard about the SHARP program and learned what a victim advocate was, I always wanted to be one," said Neely. "And then I learned that you had to be an E-6 to be in that position, so the minute I got promoted I asked my commander if I could go to the training."
Neely is a combat medic and the full-time training and administration NCO with Company C, 134th Brigade Support Battalion. In addition to military victim advocate training, Neely also attends regular training with the civilian organization she volunteers for - SOS Sexual Violence Services in Ramsey County.
Minnesota National Guard Remembers the Holocaust with Jewish Community Relations Council
Posted: 2017-04-24 10:43 AM
Washington - Members of the Minnesota National Guard and the Air Force Reserve traveled to Washington D.C. with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (also known as the JCRC), to visit the Holocaust Museum, April 4, 2017, to honor the victims of the Holocaust. Also, traveling with this group were St. Paul and Minneapolis police officers along with students from various high schools around the state. For those in uniform that day, it was an opportunity to see, hear and experience the stories of victims and survivors of the Holocaust.
Each Service member who attended was asked to bring back a summary of their experience in the form of a presentation, professional discussion or briefing to their respective unit in order to help other Guard members better understand and remember that horrible event, to honor the courage of the victims and survivors, and to remain vigilant as members of the U.S. military.
"The honor and privilege of accompanying members of the Minnesota National Guard to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. met so many goals," said Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the JCRC. "I wanted to reinforce the importance of the commitment of the U.S. military to democracy. After all, it was the Allies that defeated Nazi Germany and ultimately put an end to the Holocaust."
Learning to instruct professionalism and discipline
Posted: 2017-04-19 02:15 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - It was a challenging and rewarding two weeks for members attending the Army National Guard Funeral Honors Instructor Course, April 1-14, at Camp Ripley.
Soldiers of National Guard units from all over the United States took part in the course designed to educate team leaders in a variety of funeral honor detail tasks, traditions and responsibilities.
"It's a stressful course, but for our job, we have to be prepared to do our job under stress; and we all really benefitted from that," said Class Honor Grad, Sgt. Ryan Valline of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry.