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Minnesota National Guard
DIVARTY Remembered

To trace the history of the 34th Infantry Division Artillery (DIVARTY), you have to go back Actually way back, when the Minnesota Reserve National Guard was organized on April 15, 1887, and became the 3rd Infantry Regiment (IR) headquartered in St Paul, Minn At this time, their State Active Duty consisted of responding to civil disturbances, small riots and other law enforcement duties

These Soldiers weren't limited to duty in Minnesota though The 3rd IR was actually reorganized in 1898 as the 14th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry and was the first state to mobilize for the Spanish American War and the Phillipine Insurrection

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There would be many more re-organizations and relocations over the years, but 1917, is the year that the 125th Field Artillery Regiment was officially born During World War II, they continued making history when the unit left for North Africa in December 1942 The 125th FA ended up firing over 250,000 rounds of artillery ammunition in 480 days of combat, which was more than any other battalion

So as you can see, DIVARTY's roots run deep and they had a huge role in the history of the Minnesota National Guard Although the unit is no longer around, many of its' members are I had the privilege of speaking with nine DIVARTY commanders in June at Camp Ripley, Minn Some of them have been retired for quite some time and some are still in the Minnesota National Guard One of them, Maj. Gen. Jon Trost has even moved  onto the National Guard Bureau and is working as the Deputy Commanding General of the Training and Doctrine Command One thing that they all had in common though, was their love for the National Guard and the field artillery

Col Roger D Delgehausen who commanded DIVARTY from October 1985 to October 1987 put it best:

"Being in the Minnesota National Guard was one of the best experiences in my life"

Comradery, esprit de corps, brotherhoodthese are all words that were used to describe DIVARTY Col Wayne Hayes, who has spent 26 years in the field artillery community, talked about how he liked the tightness of the units

"I was in the New Ulm battalion, there was a battalion in Montevideo and a battalion in Duluth at the time If I needed help, I knew I could pick up the phone and talk to any other one of those units," Hayes stated

Along with their love for this branch, they all talked about training and how far the Minnesota Army National Guard has come Col Kenneth Digre was in an 8-inch battery  at one point in his career and talked about how the unit trained with nuclear weapons systems

"We had 8-inch artillery nukes and we'd be shooting the high explosive spottersThey're used to get firing corrections before you shoot the good one," Digre recalled This required a lot of specialized training because this type of round wasn't assembled up arrival You had to build it from a basic, hollow shell
Annual training periods (AT) have also changed As the Minnesota National Guard has shifted into a new normal, deployments have become routine for Soldiers and Airmen Col Louis Bodey describes how AT was in the early 70's

"At that time, the National Guard was still kind of struggling with their image The first week, they'd go out to the field one day, overnight They would dismiss at noon on Friday, everybody would go home and come back Sunday night They'd go out to the field two nights during the second week Come back in and clean, then have softball games and volleyball games and that was your annual   training"

The Minnesota National Guard has adapted and overcome The 34th Infantry Division, just last year, had command and control over the entire southern third of Iraq That, right there, is evidence of how far we've come Col John Kreye talked about how this transition has amazed him throughout his career

"Back in the day, when we didn't really have the concern of deployment, AT was a big thing to us Shooting was a big thing It took a whole year to plan an AT period Now we are so much better We can plan a year-long deployment in 8 months and prepare a unit to go and do as well as the active Army It's amazing what Soldiers can do"

Annual training is no longer the "˜summer camp' it used to be We also don't see many high profile celebrities or athletes like some of these gentlemen did There used to be many Minnesota Vikings in the guard, to include Carl Eller Digre talked about seeing Eller sitting behind the DIVARTY officer mess, where they ate, peeling potatoes It's hard for me to imagine Jared Allen hanging out and peeling potatoes in this day and age

Although a lot has changed and DIVARTY has come and gone, it's apparent that the members of this outstanding unit will be in touch for years to come In fact, they held a reunion last Friday in Ham Lake, Minn

My time with the DIVARTY commanders led me to one conclusion While at times, being a Soldier has it's challenges, being in the Minnesota National Guard makes it a bit easier and reminds us daily of why we raised our right hand This group of citizen Soldiers and Airmen is more than a premier international force, we are a family A family that is dedicated and ready to take on whatever challenge is handed to us Always Ready!

By Sgt Dajon Schafer, Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
August 27, 2010


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