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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota news anchor visits Soldiers at COB Basra

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq " Noted Minnesota anchorman Don Shelby hasn't been sleeping much lately Ever since he embedded with the 34th "Red Bull" Infantry Division, he has been rushing from one end of Contingency Operating Base (COB) Basra to another, braving sandstorms, interviewing Soldiers and sharing their stories

Shelby's cameraman, Tom Aviles, winner of 30 regional Emmys, slept even less " two hours in two days " but Shelby said that's his own fault

"He's compulsive," said Shelby, winner of two Peabody Awards "He wants to get every photo and every shot"

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Although Shelby has served in the military and has been a war correspondent in Israel and Egypt, this was his first trip to Iraq He said he felt privileged to cover the Red Bulls

"These men and women are professionals in our community," said Shelby "Not only are they on the front lines as Soldiers, but they also extend their skills and experiences with Iraqi communities It is my honor to share their stories with the people back home"

The trip, which was in the planning stages for months, got off to a rocky start when Shelby and Aviles were unable to leave their tents in Kuwait for three days because of raging sandstorms

"The troops deserve a purple heart just for dealing with the horrible conditions in this part of the world," blogged Aviles

"Don is the ultimate outdoorsman, so for him tents are fun," Aviles continued "I do not share his enthusiasm"
           
Once in COB Basra, Shelby and Aviles watched the Vikings-Packers football game, one half with Soldiers at the base coffee shop and one half with military policemen on duty at the gates

"So far, it has been like taking a trip to Brainerd," Shelby said, referring to the city in northern Minnesota "The setting is different, but the people are the same, and it's as if you were at the State Fair"

Shelby and Aviles made sure to meet with Soldiers, many of whom, like Sgt David Walkner, a Glenville, Minn, native and a human resources manager with the 34th Inf Div, grew up watching Shelby on WCCO

Walkner's home was just outside the WCCO viewing area when he was growing up So, every Sunday, the Walkner family would point their antenna toward the Twin Cities to watch Don Shelby

"It brought a sense of home," said Walkner, "definitely a change of pace"

"We can only imagine what it is like for these men and women to be in harm's way constantly and to be so far away from the people and places they love," blogged Shelby

"In our conversations with them, we can tell that we represent a part of what they miss," Shelby continued "They want to talk about the Twins and the Vikings and the Gophers They want to talk about the weather and their favorite lakes to fish

"We are more than happy to bring that small part of home to them"

In addition, Shelby and Aviles traveled to a medical hospital in Basrah to cover a possible collaboration with the University of Minnesota Col Michael Rath, a Mankato, Minn, native and division surgeon, had hatched a plan to bring University of Minnesota doctors to Basrah to teach Iraqi medical students

"That was one of the best stories that I have covered anywhere," Shelby said, "because it beat my expectations going in" 

"It helped expand the breadth of my knowledge about the war," Shelby said "It's not just infantry work, but it's rebuilding, developing trust so they can stand up on their own when we pull out"

"It's simply people trying to help people," Shelby said "It's a part of Iraq that is not understood by most people"
"You think it is all about fighting," said Shelby, formerly of the US Air Force "I know you fight for the peace"

Shelby, a mainstay of Minnesota television since 1978, produced four broadcasts, which aired Monday to Wednesday

By Pfc J Princeville Lawrence, MND-S
November 6, 2009

For queries, contact the Multi-National Division – South Public Affairs at MND-S_PAO@iraq.centcom.mil; by phone at (Iraqna) 0790-194-2865 or 770-263-9379. For more MND-S news, visit our website: www.TheRedBulls.org.



WCCO stories and video

WCCO-TV Anchor Don Shelby is with Photojournalist Tom Aviles spent the last several days in the Middle East with Minnesota National Guard Soldiers.

Photojournalist Tom Aviles Blogs From Iraq
Don Shelby Embedded With Troops In Mideast
History Of 34th Infantry Division Red Bulls
Minn. Troops, Don Shelby Watch Vikes Game In Iraq
Red Bulls Protect, Teach At Basra Medical School
Dangerous Daily Travels For Humvee Convoys In Iraq
Special Delivery From Minn. To Red Bulls In Iraq
Flying Over Oil Fields, Watching Iraqi Money Burn
WCCO's Don Shelby Flies Over Famous Iraq Oil Field
Blast Walls Protect Red Bulls At Basra Base
WCCO Crew Encounters Missile Threat In Iraq
Never Far From Memories Of Fallen Comrades In Iraq
article Training Iraqi Soldiers On The Iran-Iraq Border
article Waging Peace By Providing School Supplies In Iraq
article Debriefing After Don Shelby Returns From Iraq





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Minnesota National Guard leaders visit traveling tribute in Austin

Posted: 2018-05-22  10:16 AM
Traveling Wall AUSTIN, Minn. - A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display May 16-20, in Austin and leaders of the 347th Regional Support Group took the opportunity to visit during the event's closing ceremony.

The display, dubbed the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, was hosted by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Austin and featured a near-replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be part of this humbling and moving tribute to our Vietnam veterans," said Col. Stephen Schemenauer. "The traveling Vietnam Wall is a powerful display, and this event provided an opportunity to meet, and thank, service members from WWII to present-day conflicts. Regardless of their branch of service, or the era or conflict in which they served, we all share a common bond."



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Posted: 2018-05-21  03:51 PM
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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.



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