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Minnesota National Guard
More than 1,000 Minnesota National Guard members given big send-off on Iraq mission

By Tad Vezner tvezner@pioneerpress.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/



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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.



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.



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