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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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