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Minnesota National Guard
All American by day, Norwegian by Night

As part of the 36th Annual Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange program at Camp Ripley, Minn, the Senior Training Coordinators of the Norwegian Home Guard, along with Camp Ripley's commander, Col Richard Weaver, toured many businesses in and around Little Falls Feb 17
The day started out with a friendly breakfast (frokost in Norwegian) at Perkins, where it soon became apparent that the "˜All American Breakfast' was a must to gather the full experience It was overheard that the food was "very good" and also a "very big breakfast" The Norwegian Home Guard left Perkins fully satisfied for a short shopping trip to Wal-Mart, known by some as one of the legends of Little Falls

It was then on to KLTF (Little Falls Radio) for an interview with Ron, Steve and Donna on "˜Party Line' It was here that Weaver and the Norwegian Home Guard Officer in Charge, Lt. Col. Johan Rist, were put in front of the microphone for such questions as "Do you eat Lutefisk?" along with family, hobby and work questions for all the other Senior Training Coordinators Rist commented to a caller questioning the secrets of ice fishing that "Those secrets of ice-fishing would have to be told in Norwegian, as they are secrets!" When asked about the training received here at Camp Ripley, Rist commented that "the instructors are better" than in Norway

One of the things that all of the Senior Training Coordinators complimented the Minnesota National Guard Soldiers and local citizens on was their hospitality and friendliness When comparing the Norwegian Home Guard and the Minnesota National Guard, Rist stated that, "The support of the National Guard Soldiers by the people of Minnesota is overwhelming" He explained that he and his Home Guard were also thanked personally by a kind citizen (while visiting the small town of Royalton) for their support of the Minnesota National Guard Soldiers

The Norwegian Home Guard consists of around 1,200 members that, with the addition of Task Force, Strengthening Force, and Follow-Up Force personnel, can expand rapidly to 56,200 Rist stated that their Soldiers must be in very good physical condition and able to ski Their Home Guard Soldiers work hard and "do not get paid for their Soldiering duties, but we are working very hard to change that"

For lunch (lunsj in Norwegian), it was off to Pizza Ranch for a buffet Once again, the meal was filled with good food, friendly conversation, and laughter As visitors, the Norwegians were again impressed with the kind treatment from the staff and other local citizens who were there dining at the local establishment

Norway is known as one of the most prosperous nations in the world and was the second largest exporter of seafood for the year of 2006 That fact making fishing one of the most common past times of many Norwegians, it was obvious why their tours of Crestliner and Larson boats were so interesting to them The tours were filled with information and a personalized step by step explanation as to how the boats were built from start to finish

After enjoying an "All American Day" in the city of Little Falls, it was time for the Norwegians to provide their own hospitality and thanks to their Military hosts and the Chamber of Commerce The Norwegians prepared a feast of their customary food and drink for their guests to sample and enjoy The food spread demonstrated the influence of long seafaring and farming traditions with salmon, other seafood balanced by cheeses, and excellent bread The guests were also served lefse and Norwegian chocolates The wonderful food was topped off with the ever legendary Akvavit, which is an alcohol that is distilled from potatoes After short introductions from the senior leadership of the Norwegian Home Guard, the formal event ended with many thanks and an invitation to continue eating, drinking, and enjoying the company of new friends

by Minnesota Army National Guard Public Affairs
The Norwegian Exchange Program

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