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Minnesota National Guard
Four Minn. Soldiers inducted into Court of Honor

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn - Four Minnesota National Guard Soldiers were inducted into the Camp Ripley Training Center's Court of Honor in an induction ceremony today

Inducted into the Court of Honor were retired Command Sgt Maj Kelly M Booge, retired Command Sgt Maj Larry W Helsene, retired Master Sgt Michael J Bellos and Staff Sgt Chad A Malmberg The four honorees accounted for 110 years of combined service

Malmberg said he was a little overwhelmed when he first read the names of those inducted in the Court of Honor

"When I first saw my name, along with all those command sergeant majors, it seemed out of place," said Malmberg after the ceremony "It is an incredible feeling to be around that; to be part of something like this is just incredible"

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Malmberg was recognized in the Court of Honor after being awarded the Silver Star in 2007 for actions while serving as a convoy commander during an escort mission in Iraq After his lead vehicle was hit in an ambush from a larger force, he coordinated fires for his convoy team while constantly putting himself in danger of enemy fire Malmberg held off the enemy for nearly an hour without losing a Soldier or truck in his convoy But he said coming home alive and in one piece was enough thanks

"I thought just coming home was enough," he said "To be recognized and to continue to hear the thanks is just incredible It makes me feel like we really make a difference"

Malmberg wasn't the only one who felt he didn't belong

"I was shocked when I first got the letter," said Booge "I understand why Soldiers like Staff Sgt Malmberg are here, but me? You go about doing your job, and that's it I never thought I did that great of a job, or that people were watching me that closely"

Booge was recognized for his years of dedication and mentoring of Soldiers, as well as his dedication to his community He said he had a great feeling being a part of the Court of Honor, but more so because he was able to share the distinction with his brother, 1st Sgt Roger Booge, who was inducted to the Court of Honor posthumously in 1998

"This is an extreme honor," he said "You look at all the thousands and thousands of people who have served in Minnesota; this is a pretty elite group"

Booge also said that he knew others who, in his opinion, should have had their names carved on the stone plaque before his He said he will work to get them recognized in the upcoming years

In addition to the Court of Honor induction, Soldiers from the 175th Field Artillery (FA) received a special recognition during the ceremony The 175th FA had the distinct honor of firing the first American round during World War II Representing the 175th FA were retired Sgt Lloyd M Nelson, retired Cpl Joseph R Piche, retired Private 1st Class Gordon K Bennett, and retired Private 1st Class Victor V Knoph

"When I first heard about this, I thought it was a good idea, and I still do," said Bennett, who served as a forward observer in the 175th FA

Bennett said he remembered calling in the first round on November 19th, 1942

"We were positioned high on the hill overlooking the town and the howitzer was behind and below us," he said "After getting conformation from the commissioned officer with us, I got on the phone and called in that first round"

During the ceremony, the members of the 175th FA received special recognition certificates from Maj. Gen. Larry W Shellito, Minnesota Adjutant General; a coin from 34th Division Commander Maj. Gen. Richard Nash and a signed proclamation from Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who designated November 19, 2009 as, "175th Field Artillery Day"

The Court of Honor has been recognizing the efforts of Minnesota National Guard Soldiers for 76 years, and has honored 394 Soldiers in all The event, which was previously held biennially, has recognized 394 Soldiers in all The Soldiers were selected for their service to the Minnesota National Guard from nominations received by March this year A board of active and retired Minnesota National Guardsmen and civilian employees review the submissions, and forward recommendations to Maj. Gen. Shellito, for final approval

by Sgt Daryl G Sanford
Minn National Guard Public Affairs
October 4, 2009

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