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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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Securing the Bold North: Minnesota National Guard supports Super Bowl LII

Posted: 2018-02-02  10:45 PM
Super Bowl 52 MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - More than 400 Minnesota National Guardsmen are supporting security efforts in Minneapolis ahead of Super Bowl 52.

"This is what we do," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "When the local community can't meet the public safety needs, they come to the Guard. We're their normal partner, we're a natural partner, and we're their preferred partner when it comes to filling in the gaps that they can't fill."

At the request of the city, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton authorized the Minnesota National Guard to provide support to security efforts leading up to and during Super Bowl 52. The Guardsmen are providing direct support to and working alongside law enforcement officers from across the state. Like their civilian law enforcement partners, Minnesota Guardsmen are focused on ensuring a safe experience for the residents and visitors who are attending the Super Bowl festivities.



100 Years Ago, Camp Cody's "Grand Old Man" formed 34th Infantry Division

Posted: 2018-01-18  12:59 PM
Gen. Augustus Blocksom Decorated veteran Augustus Blocksom was a man of his time, but times were changing. He exemplified Progressive Era America prior to the Great War. Blocksom participated in all the major US Army campaigns for nearly a half-century. He fought American Indians, Spaniards, Chinese and Filipinos. He brought that experience to Camp Cody, New Mexico where he assembled units from across the mid-West to form the 34th Infantry Division in 1917.



Iowa Red Bull takes command of 34th Infantry Division

Posted: 2017-12-13  10:11 AM
Minnesota National Guard JOHNSTON, Iowa - Brig. Gen. Benjamin J. Corell, Deputy Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, assumed command of the 34th Infantry Division "Red Bulls" during a ceremony in Rosemount, Minnesota, on December 9, 2017.

Headquartered in Minnesota, the division has been commanded almost-exclusively by members of the Minnesota National Guard since 1968.

"Typically there's been very few people who have been allowed to command the 34th Infantry Division that didn't come from the state of Minnesota," Corell said.



Minnesota-based aviation unit honors storied division, enters into new, 'expeditionary' era

Posted: 2017-12-12  11:29 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade (ECAB), who recently celebrated a year full of achievements, have embraced a new name: Red Devils.

The St. Paul-based unit hosted its annual aviation brigade ball Dec. 9, at the Envision Event Center in Oakdale, Minnesota, where the unit's new logo was unveiled.

Soldiers of the 34th ECAB, which falls under and supports the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, will continue to wear the Red Bull insignia on their uniforms. However, they will now be known and referred to as the Red Devils, a name that pays homage to the division's historical accomplishments and fierce warfighting.



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