| Pentagon has committed to paying bonuses to 2,500 Minnesota National Guard soldiers
The Pentagon has committed to paying bonuses to 2,500 Minnesota National Guard soldiers who are still owed them after a long deployment to Iraq several years ago
Military officials told members of Minnesota's congressional delegation Monday that the Pentagon has closed a loophole that hung up payments of about $10 million in the bonuses to soldiers in Minnesota's "Red Bull" 34 Infantry Brigade Those soldiers began a 22-month deployment in 2005 that kept them in Iraq for 16 months, the longest deployment of any infantry unit since World War II
"We're glad this is done, but I certainly hope there's no one pounding their chest over it," said US Rep Tim Walz, a Democrat from Minnesota who was one of several members of Congress to get involved in the issue "It should have been done a long time ago"
The Pentagon acted Friday to close the loophole, which came about because the military didn't announce bonuses for extra-long deployments until January 2007 That left it unclear whether the bonuses were intended to be retroactive
Though the military now says it is, several members of Congress from Minnesota said they're still waiting to hear when the checks will actually be cut
"Today's news is an indicator that the bureaucracy is moving, but the congressman looks forward to getting a definitive answer on when the Red Bulls are finally going to receive their long overdue bonus pay," said Troy Young, spokesman for US Rep John Kline, R-Minn Young said Kline hoped to get the answer Wednesday from Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Walz said he expected the checks would go out "within the month"
In all, about 22,000 National Guard members nationwide may be eligible for the bonus pay, according to the office of US Sen Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn That will mean about $59 million in bonuses to guard members, with the $10 million chunk to Minnesota's Red Bulls the largest
Capt John Hobot, a spokesman for the Minnesota National Guard, issued a statement Monday night saying the Guard is "very pleased" and will work to "promptly action the payments our Soldiers deserve"
Klobuchar, who also worked on the issue, said it should be "as soon as possible"
"A lot of these soldiers have been waiting and waiting," Klobuchar said "But this is a sign of good will"
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Article source: TwinCities.com â€¢ Pioneer Press
Camp Ripley strikes first before wildfire season
Posted: 2017-03-24 10:19 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Every spring Camp Ripley begins its annual controlled burn program to help reduce the risk of wildfire during training.
"Usually the burns are completed every spring before the summer annual training season begins," said Tim Notch, training area coordinator on Camp Ripley. "However, the warmer weather conditions provide a nice opportunity for preventative burns earlier this season."
As in years past Camp Ripley will conduct controlled burns on approximately 13,000 acres of the 53,000-acre military reservation. The burns are done in coordination with the staffs of the Camp Ripley Department of Public Works and the Camp Ripley Environmental Department along with support from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Minnesota Guardsman earns recognition through Leads 2 Enlistment program
Posted: 2017-03-23 09:46 AM
DULUTH, Minn. - Pfc. Trevor Nelson received the Minnesota Distinguished Recruiting Ribbon and a Minnesota Recruiting and Retention Battalion medallion for excellence from Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Serbus, March 18, 2017, at the Duluth Armory. Nelson earned these awards as part of the online referral system, Leads 2 Enlistment for referring four friends who have joined the Minnesota National Guard.
"I talked to some buddies in my school about the Guard. They liked the benefits, so I put their info in the app and let my recruiter take over." said Nelson. "I thought it would be fun to serve with friends and help them figure out their path in life."
Nelson is currently a senior at Cloquet Senior High School and assigned to the Recruit Sustainment Program in Duluth. He attended basic training at Fort Benning in the summer of 2016 with follow-on training in the summer of 2017 to become an infantryman.
Litchfield and Local Veteran Honor Gen. John Vessey at Armory Open House
Posted: 2017-03-10 08:50 AM
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.
Camp Ripley welcomes new command sergeant major
Posted: 2017-03-08 03:29 PM
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.