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History
Minnesota National Guard
Honoring our Fallen Soldiers: Sgt. Corey Rystad, Sgt. Bryan McDonough Task Force BEARCAT

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq " "We lost two good men on Saturday and if the testimony of their friends and their leaders does not convince you of that I don't know what will," said Task Force Bearcat's Chaplain (1st Lt) Steven Timm during a Dec 7 memorial ceremony for two Bravo Company Soldiers at the Chapel of Hope.

Sgts Bryon McDonough of Maplewood, Minn, 22, and Corey Rystad of Red Lake Falls, Minn, 20, died when a roadside bomb rocked their Humvee on a patrol Dec 2 near Fallujah. Both were promoted posthumously.

"These men and their brothers fight back for their country " for their unit " but most of all, for each other," said Col George Bristol, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force's Headquarters Group.

Capt Chip Rankin, company commander, told the more than 300 Soldiers, Marines and Sailors in attendance that he had called each Soldier's families and they both asked the unit to continue doing their mission to honor their sons.

Their platoon leader, 1st Lt Wade Blomgren, said he knew both Soldiers well.

"The duty they choose as did all of us" was a dangerous one that required personal sacrifice and a great deal of character, which neither one of these guys lacked," said Blomgren. McDonough was a strong, smart, positive role model who was "looked up to by every man in his platoon " including myself," said Blomgren.

"The one thing I will never forget about him is his heart," he said.

He said McDonough also asked him several times to find a spot for him on the deployment.

"I learned quickly that he had some maturity that went well beyond his years," said Blomgren.

McDonough's roommate, Spc Jacob Brown, said McDonough was one of the most squared-away Soldiers he had ever known.

"If you had a task for him to complete, he would never argue or complain"� unlike myself," said Brown. "And once the task was complete, it was always above and beyond what was required."

Rystad was a quiet professional who never complained about routine things like preparing gear for upcoming missions, his squad leader said. A few days prior to his fateful last mission, Rystad said there was no place he would rather be than with his squad in Iraq serving his country.

Sgt Adam Gallant said Rystad "did what he needed to do to ensure the job that we do was done right."

Gallant ended his eulogy by saying, "There are three things that nobody can ever take away from Corey Rystad: One, when it was Corey's time to go he did not sit on his hands, he answered that call; two, to borrow a line from a movie, Corey went out with his boots on; and three, Corey Rystad and Bryon McDonough are heroes. They are real heroes. They define the very essence of that word."

Rystad's friend, Spc Nicholas Maurstad, said Rystad was "down to earth and real."

"How he was always laughing and smiling even though it was completely unreasonable to be happy sometimes, that is what I will always remember about Corey," said Maurstad.

Several Soldiers, Marines and Sailors had a special way of remembering their fallen comrades in addition to the traditional saluting of their memorial boot stands. Some knelt down and kissed the dog tags hanging from their rifles, and several placed their hands on the helmets placed on top of their rifles.

McDonough joined the Minnesota Guard Sept 16, 2003. After completing basic training and advanced individual training, he was assigned to Troop G, 113th Cavalry in St Paul, Minn. He transferred to B Company for his deployment to Iraq.

His decorations include the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart, both awarded posthumously, the Combat Action Badge and the Good Conduct Medal.

McDonough is survived by his parents, Thomas and Renee; his sisters, Shannon and Katie; and his brother, Kevin.

Rystad joined the Minnesota Guard March 30, 2004. After completing his basic training and advanced individual training, he was assigned to C Company, 2nd Bn, 136th Infantry, based in Thief River Falls, Minn. He transferred to B Company in October 2005 for his deployment to Iraq.

His individual decorations include the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart, both awarded posthumously, the Combat Action Badge and the Good Conduct Medal.

Rystad is survived by his parents, James and Donna; his brothers, David and Brian; and his sister, Sarah.

By Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood
December 31, 2006

Sgt Bryan McDonough
Sgt Corey Rystad



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Minnesota National Guard leaders visit traveling tribute in Austin

Posted: 2018-05-22  10:16 AM
Traveling Wall AUSTIN, Minn. - A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display May 16-20, in Austin and leaders of the 347th Regional Support Group took the opportunity to visit during the event's closing ceremony.

The display, dubbed the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, was hosted by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Austin and featured a near-replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be part of this humbling and moving tribute to our Vietnam veterans," said Col. Stephen Schemenauer. "The traveling Vietnam Wall is a powerful display, and this event provided an opportunity to meet, and thank, service members from WWII to present-day conflicts. Regardless of their branch of service, or the era or conflict in which they served, we all share a common bond."



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Posted: 2018-05-21  03:51 PM
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Making up Task Force Ragnar is Utah-based B Company, 1st Battalion, 211th Assault Reconnaissance Battalion; Nevada-based B Company, 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion; Michigan-based C Company, 3-238th GSAB; and Minnesota-based A, D, E and Headquarters Companies, 2-147th AHB and F Company, 1-189th GSAB.

"Early coordination with the units across four states combined with exceptional unit leadership and motivated Soldiers helped us to quickly build the task force when we closed on Fort Irwin," said Lt. Col. Kevin O'Brien, Task Force Commander. "I was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and teamwork of task force Soldiers. This was an outstanding training opportunity that challenged every Soldier to grow as individuals and units daily."



Deployed Minnesota Guardsman honors grandfather, Hmong heritage

Posted: 2018-05-17  09:57 AM
Brandon Xiong CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - "My heritage is Hmong," said 21 year-old Minnesota National Guard Spec. Brandon Xiong from his desk at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. "A low-key culture that originated from southern Asia. Hmong is not a place, but it is a people."

Xiong, the eldest grandson of the late Col. Song Leng Xiong, is deployed in Kuwait as an information technician for Area Support Group - Kuwait.

"We were not nomadic, but have been in many different conflicts," said Xiong. "Many places I go, I am questioned about my nationality and when answered, end up being even more confused. There is a movie called, "Gran Torino", where Clint Eastwood is introduced to the Hmong culture and I think it portrays the Hmong people not so terribly."



Month of the Military Child recognizes contributions of military kids

Posted: 2018-04-07  01:54 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the contributions and sacrifices military children make so their family members can serve. An estimated 15,000 children in Minnesota have been affected by the deployment of a parent.

"Military children bear a lot while their family members serve," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "It is up to us to support these resilient kids and help to lessen their burden."

An event to honor military kids in Minnesota will take place April 13, 2018, at the Mall of America rotunda from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Activities will include appearances by the Teddy Bear Band and meet and greets with Nickelodeon characters.



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