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Minnesota National Guard
Norwegian soldiers tour area

St Cloud Fire Batallion Chief Leon Faust gives Norwegian soldier Steffen Overrein a tour of St Cloud Fire Station One on Saturday

St Cloud Fire Batallion Chief Leon Faust gives Norwegian soldier Steffen Overrein a tour of St Cloud Fire Station One on Saturday (Dave Schwarz, dschwarz@stcloudtimescom)

Some years they want to eat at a Kentucky Fried Chicken Other times they want to go buy some hunting equipment

This year they wanted to visit the St Cloud Fire Department

For the past six years, John and Mona Bowden of Clearwater have welcomed Norwegian soldiers into their home The couple are one of dozens of families who host soldiers from the Norwegian Home Guard every year

The Home Guard does an exchange program with the Minnesota National Guard About 100 Norwegian soldiers go to Camp Ripley for a week of training and 100 National Guard Soldiers do the same in Norway

The program began in 1974 and is the longest-running military exchange partnership between any two nations

After the week at Camp Ripley, the soldiers spend a weekend with a host family and see more of the United States Every year the Bowdens ask the soldiers what they want to do and see during their time in Minnesota

This year Steffen Overrein, 19, of Oslo asked to see an American fire department His father is a firefighter back home

So Overrein and Ventle Fosse, 20, of Kristiansand and got a tour of St Cloud Fire Department and got to see how the department operates

Overrein said the department was set up like those in Oslo, but the fire trucks in St Cloud are boxier than the ones in Norway

They also planned on going to Cabela’s, the Mall of America and test out their skills at a shooting range

Fosse said he was enjoying Minnesota and said the weather is similar to Norway But there was one big difference

“We are missing the mountains,” Fosse said “Where are the mountains?”

By Kari Petrie • kpetrie@stcloudtimescom • February 21, 2010

Article source: http://www.sctimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2010102200032

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