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Minnesota National Guard
Serving Our Troops

COB Basra " A taste of home was served up "Saint Paul" style, Dec 12, as members of the Minnesota-based "Serving Our Troops" organization catered to Soldiers at Contingency Operating Base (COB) Basra, Iraq, and Camp Buering, Kuwait, as well as family members who gathered at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St Paul, Minn, all connected via a live video link
          
Local chefs, who flew into Kuwait two days ago, grilled and served more than 6,500, quality, 12-ounce steaks " also delivered for the special meal " to members of the 34th Infantry Division More importantly, the occasion allowed everyone involved a chance to connect with family 6,000 miles away

"This was the highlight of my day," said Master Sgt Jeff Vaske, Roseville, Minn, 34th Inf Div, Senior Eng NCO

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Occasionally days can get redundant, said Sgt 1st Class Jeffry Taylor, Bryton, Minn, 34th Inf Div tactical command post "But, today was awesome," he said

The event entitled "Saint Paul to Iraq and Kuwait" is the seventh project for the non-profit group since 2004 they have served over 40,000 steaks in their history, but this was the largest staging yet

"Each mission is more complex and more expensive and we continue to reach out to businesses and the entire community for donations and support to make it happen," said Pat Harris, Saint Paul City Council member and organizational co-founder

"Serving Our Troops is a very special and unique way to give these families a chance to share a delicious meal together that happens to feature an amazing steak," he said

Normally catering to members of the Minnesota National Guard, Harris was proud to be at COB Basra where the 34th Infantry Division "Red Bulls," from Minnesota, are stationed while in command of Multi-National Division South Additionally, those involved savored the chance to feed Soldiers from outside of Minnesota who are stationed at COB Basra

"It's a point of Minnesota pride to be able to serve everyone," said Maj Gen, Richard Nash, commander of MND-S "They provided 5,500 steaks to Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airman, and civilians from all over"

The Serving Our Troops volunteers in Basra, who included local business owners, were joined by representatives of the Saint Paul Police Federation, the Minnesota Vikings, the golf event Tee It Up for the Troops, and "Superstar" Mike Morris from KFAN radio

The live video feed and the chance for service members to use Skype - a video conferencing software - to speak and be seen by loved ones were the highlights of the dining experience

Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Maj Gen Larry Shellito, Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General, were among the speakers who addressed the troops from Minnesota

At one point, a birthday cake appeared on the screen with lit candles and the words "Happy 22nd Birthday Spc Ramos" With much cheering from the crowd, Spc Michael Ramos, Stacy, Minn, an entry control point team member with the 34th Military Police Company, walked up to the screen and simulated blowing out the candles from the other side of the globe

He was then treated to a rousing performance of "Happy Birthday" from his fellow Soldiers

By SSG Chris Carney, 367th MPAD
Dec 14, 2009
Article source: http://www.theredbulls.org/article00503



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Mission Complete: Bearcats Finish NATO Exercise in Lithuania's Suwalki Gap

Posted: 2017-06-23  02:56 PM
Air Assault Saber Strike PABRADE, Lithuania - At the sound of 17 U.S. Army rotary wing aircraft humming through the air, Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, in addition to Service members of five NATO Allied countries, load onto Black Hawk, Chinook and Apache helicopters, at Kazlu Ruda airstrip during the Saber Strike exercise, June 17, 2017. The multinational effort came together to conduct an air and ground assault in the Suwalki Gap to demonstrate the nations' capability to respond to any hostile act of a potential adversary.

"You could tell on everyone's faces that this was go time," said Sgt. Derrick Bruestle, a team leader for 2-136th CAB, also known as the Bearcats. "It wasn't just a training exercise to them anymore, it was a serious mission with real implications on the real world."

The magnitude of the exercise set in as the first bird lifted off the airstrip and started moving toward the objective in a staggered formation. Saber Strike is a U.S. Army Europe-led NATO exercise meant to exhibit a strengthened partnership of the military assets of the NATO Alliance.



Beyond NATO Commitments, MN State Partnership with Croatia Continues to Grow

Posted: 2017-06-22  10:25 AM
Saber Strike SPP PABRADE, Lithuania - Since 1996, the Minnesota National Guard and the Croatian Armed Forces have been partners in the National Guard's State Partnership Program. Beyond the bond of the NATO commitment, a mutual trust and unique bond has been forged amongst the warriors of each respective nation. From Camp Ripley to Karlovac, the soldiers have found a common cause of continuous improvement. Exercise after exercise, there has been a greater appreciation of one another's culture and customs.

You don't have to look to far to see this dynamic. When asked if he had ever worked with Minnesota National Guardsmen before, 1Lt Emanuel Hamer of the Croatian Armed Forces said, "This is my fourth time working with 2-136 "Bearcats," each time we grow closer and stronger. I feel like they are members of my unit. I'm glad I have this opportunity to learn new techniques and share some of our own with the Americans."



7 Nations, 4 Branches, 1 Mission; Saber Strike '17

Posted: 2017-06-20  02:14 PM
Saber Strike 17 PABRADE, Lithuania - As the sun begins to set on the Lithuanian countryside, the final touches are put on the camouflage netting designed to break the silhouette and conceal the position of the Tactical Action Center, or TAC, of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division on June 17, 2017. As part of the multinational exercise of Saber Strike '17, the 1/34th ABCT is providing support to the Air Assault Task Force Commander, Col. Charles Kemper.

As the first ever combined air and ground assault in the annual Saber Strike exercise, this year's exercise has set a milestone in testing the compatibility of seven nations and all military branches.

"We want to reassure all of our NATO Allies that we are in this together," said Kemper. "We're part of the team and we can demonstrate capability."



Minnesota Aviators complete successful eXportable Combat Training Capability exercise

Posted: 2017-06-20  08:30 AM
XCTC FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard's 2-147th Assault Helicopter Battalion wrapped up support for an eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) exercise at Fort Hood, Texas, recently. The unit was part of Task Force Ragnar, the exercise's aviation element, supporting the Tennessee National Guard's 278th Armored Calvary Regiment as they prepare for a rotation to the National Training Center in 2018.

"Our mission is to support a brigade element here," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Otremba, with the 2-147. "But I think our ultimate mission is to train for an austere environment which sets us up for success at NTC next year."

The task force conducted aviation support missions including air assault, sling load, deliberate attack, defensive positioning and key leader escorts. They also conducted aviation-specific training in personnel recovery, downed aircraft recovery, field maintenance and air traffic control operations.



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