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Minnesota National Guard
Iraq to Everest: Red Bull medic aims for Earth's highest peak

BASRA, IRAQ - There comes a certain time in the twilight of every Soldier's deployment when it becomes time to begin dreaming about post-deployment plans

Staff Sgt Meghan Markson, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division Force Protection Manager, plans to remodel the St Paul, Minn home she and her husband share

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First Lt Jessica Westendorf, 34th Inf Div Sustainment Operations Officer from Little Falls, Minn, plans to take a Caribbean vacation in St Lucia

Staff Sgt Daniel Bari plans to climb mountains

Of course, Bari, currently deployed to Contingency Operating Base Basra, intends to start small and work his way up: first a lowly hill, say like Pike's Peak in Colorado, then a little knoll, like Mount McKinley in Alaska, and then finally, his ultimate goal: Mount Everest in Nepal

Bari, who has "always enjoyed doing stuff outdoors," said he found this calling in the woods of northern Minnesota last fall

"I started rock climbing up in Duluth in the summer and fall of 2008," said the St Louis Park, Minn native, "and really, I instantly fell in love with rock climbing"

Trips across the Appalachian Trail followed, and Bari, a medic with the 34th Inf Div, found himself falling in love with the art of the trudge

"I really enjoyed the terrain, the angles that you take going up and down hills, especially wearing a pack," said Bari, who wondered if it was an Army thing "It was a lot of enjoyment, just getting outside, kind of free out there"

Bari and his friends began to talk about taking a rock-climbing trip, but a different kind of challenge interrupted Bari's plans: a deployment to Iraq

Bari's pre-deployment training brought him to Fort Lewis, Wash, where the looming, white specter of Mount Rainier sat teasingly on the horizon

"The first time I saw Mount Rainier, I had that instant when I was like, 'wow, I'd really like to see what it's like on top of that thing,'" Bari said

While at Fort Lewis, Bari immersed himself in books on mountaineering and its myriad dangers: frigid cold, glaciers, crevasses, high altitude sickness and falling It wasn't until Bari's four-day pass that he was able to actually climb the mountain - and because of inclement weather, he was only able to reach 8,000 feet Nevertheless, his will was undeterred

There was some times during the two months we were at Fort Lewis when I thought, 'well, I wonder if I start getting up there - it'll be cold and the oxygen is a little bit less and maybe I have no idea what I'm getting myself into, and I'll hate it - and I'll change my mind,'" Bari said "But that didn't happen I knew that the more I was climbing the more I enjoyed it"

His appetite whetted, Bari continued training in Iraq, where he compensated for southern Iraq's relative flatness by running voraciously, sometimes eclipsing 35-45 miles a week

"Your leg strength: that's the power that's going to get you up the mountain," he said

Once his deployment ends, Bari said he plans to take his legs and shimmy up Pike's Peak, which tops off near 14,115 feet The route to the top of Pike's Peak is a simple path, a well-trod trail that requires maybe a day's hike The peak mostly serves as a way to acclimatize to high altitudes, in addition to its role as a warm-up for Mount Whitney in California

After Mount Whitney, Bari said he plans to finish off Mount McKinley, where he can gain experience working with ropes and ice and glaciers in the summer of 2011

"After Rainier, the next big step is going to Denali National Park and climbing Mount McKinley," said Bari "It's about 20,000 feet and it's in Alaska, so it's significantly colder and it's significantly higher So that will be the last major training piece before making an attempt at Everest"

Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world at 29,029 feet, has long allured the brave and bold Ever since Sir Edmund Hillary first scaled its craggy summit in 1953, over 2700 adventurers have crawled their way up the peak locals call "Chomolungma," or Saint Mother The mountain is so high, and the trail is so long, that to climb straight through is both foolhardy and dangerous

"You don't start right at the base camp and go straight to the top," Bari explained "You go up a little bit, set up a camp and get used to that elevation, and every so often, you actually go back down, basically to recover a little bit, and you then do that progressively up [the mountain]

"I think it's worth noting the highest point in the lower 48 is well under 15,000 feet The base camp for Mount Everest is over 17,000 feet

So the highest point that I could do any training, without going to Alaska, in the United States, is in California, and even at the very highest point, I'm still well short of even the base camp of Everest," he said "So that really gets me some perspective: What is all my training for? Getting me below the bottom"

While Bari has "absolutely zero experience mountain climbing," he didn't really have any serious running experience before his first marathon, either In fact, Bari originally hated running, but as he trained, he grew to love running, and "it kinda grew from there," said Bari

Since then, Bari has "kinda lost track" of how many marathons he has run, although he estimates the total to be somewhere close to 20

Bari hopes that his mountain climbing plans blossom similarly He has already contacted several companies, and he said that as a staff sergeant in the US Army, it's simply a matter of saving money, staying fit and hoping for good weather

And while there are many things Bari cannot control over the next two years, his plan, at least, appears to be rock-solid: start at the bottom, and through hard work and effort and sweat, climb your way to the top

By Pvt 1st Class J Princeville Lawrence
34th Red Bull Infantry Division Public Affairs
25 Dec 2009


Article source: http://www.theredbulls.org/article00531



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Litchfield and Local Veteran Honor Gen. John Vessey at Armory Open House

Posted: 2017-03-10  08:50 AM
Vessey Bust LITCHFIELD, Minn. -Bruce Cottington, a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea, donated a bronze bust of Gen. John W. Vessey, Jr. to the Litchfield National Guard unit during the armory's public open house event March 4. Cottington, a Litchfield resident, commands the Minnesota Chapter of the Veterans of Underage Military Service. VUMS members enlisted in the military prior to the minimum age requirement in order to serve their country during WWII. Cottington received the bust from Vessey, a fellow VUMS member. Both enlisted in the military at the age of 16.

The highlight of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion open house was the unveiling of the sculpture. The unit was very supportive when Cottington proposed donating the sculpture. The Litchfield community has always been very supportive of the National Guard over the years, so the open house was a chance to say 'thanks' to their neighbors. "This was a great opportunity to honor Bruce and to honor Gen. Vessey," said B Co., 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion Commander, Capt. Seth Goreham. Bravo Company also has a tight relationship with the local American Legion and VFW. Many Litchfield citizens are former members of Bravo Company, or the unit's predecessors A Co, 682nd Engineer Battalion, and the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company.



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Posted: 2017-03-08  03:29 PM
CSM Erickson CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The garrison command team of Camp Ripley, family, friends and colleagues from the Minnesota National Guard attended a Change of Responsibility ceremony between Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Worden and Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Erickson, March 5, 2017, at Camp Ripley.

The ceremony was an official "passing of the sword" from one senior noncommissioned officer to the next and assumption of the duties and responsibilities that go along with the position of Garrison Command Sergeant Major.

As with many military ceremonies those in attendance welcomed Erickson as a new member of the team and bid farewell, recognized and thanked Worden for his service.



Norwegian youth recognized for response to vehicle accident

Posted: 2017-02-22  09:59 AM
NOREX youth CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Norwegian youths Stian Dahl and Haavard Engen received the Camp Ripley Garrison Commander's coin from Col. Scott St Sauver February 19, 2017, in recognition for reacting to a vehicle accident they witnessed earlier that week.

As part of the U.S.-Norway Reciprocal Troop Exchange, Norwegian youths ages 19-20 are matched up with a host family in order to spend an evening experiencing American culture. In most situations the "Buddy Weekend" as it's called allows the youths to go shopping, attend events and have home-cook meals along with their host family.

"We are able to match up youth members with families all over the state," said Staff Sgt. Tim Krouth, Buddy Weekend organizer. "Lots of the families have hosted one or two of our Norwegian friends for several years in a row now, it a great way to relax and see some of Minnesota."



To the top of the mountain and back, NOREX 44 members embrace the Norwegian winter

Posted: 2017-02-21  01:25 PM
NOREX FTX HALTDALEN, Norway - After two days at a base camp near Haltdalen, Norway, Minnesota National Guardsmen participating in the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange were ready for the most challenging aspect of their four-day field training exercise - a ski march up the mountain.

It was Day three of the FTX, meaning members of the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange had slowly adjusted to surviving and thriving while living in a winter environment and also honed their skills on cross country skills well enough to begin a climb that would take nearly three hours.

"Our goal was to get you to know how to use the winter, see how the Norwegians use the winter, and how we survive the winter so we can conduct combat," said Vidar Aune, one of several members of Home Guard 12 guiding the Minnesota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen during their training here. "By getting the experience living outside in the snow, you manage to survive it and handle it quite well."



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