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Minnesota National Guard
National Guard Soldiers give back to the community

National Guard recruits clean up trash along Haines Road in Duluth on Saturday morning as part of a nationwide Army National Guard program to participate in environmental projects this weekend From left are Pfc Zach Lindberg of Cloquet, Pvt David Olson of Pine City, Pvt Erik Graham of Duluth, Pvt Travis Ennen of Barnum, Pvt Zach Moder of Cloquet, Pvt Randy Domogalla of Cloquet and Pvt Joseph Lind of Barnum They are in the Recruit Sustainment Program and are still in high school and college waiting to join their units (Photos by Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnewscom)

The Army National Guard deployed near the Duluth International Airport on Saturday and cleaned up

Twenty-two Soldiers in the Recruit Sustainment Program removed about 25 bags of trash from alongside three miles of Airpark Boulevard, Rice Lake Road, Airport Road and Haines Road, starting and ending at the Duluth Army National Guard Armory

The Soldiers, who come from throughout Northeastern Minnesota, were taking part in their once-a-month drill All were recruited into six-year tours of duty in the Guard last year and went through basic training during the summer Almost all of them are high school seniors

An exception is Joseph Lind, 18, who graduated from Barnum High School last year and is a freshman studying mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota Duluth Lind said he decided to join the Guard as a high school senior because “I wanted to be in the military in the first place, and I also wanted to go to college And the National Guard is the best place to go”

That’s because the National Guard provides time for education and foots the bill, said Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Lindberg of Cloquet, who was accompanying the young troopers on the trash pickup assignment

“They get their education paid for and they have the time to go, plus they have a part-time job that pays them — the National Guard,” Lindberg said “And they get the training in leadership development that’s beneficial to anyone in the military”

The educational benefit is significant for Christina Dearborn, 17, a senior at Littlefork-Big Falls High School who plans to seek a medical degree at the University of South Dakota But Dearborn and Lind are equally motivated by patriotism, as is Justin Koen, 17, a senior at Cloquet High School

“I want to serve the country, and I knew I could get some benefits from it,” Koen said

Dearborn, Koen and Lind all hope to go active duty in the Army after their six-year Guard stints Lindberg said that’s typical after recruits finish basic training

“They loved boot camp,” Lindberg said “They don’t love it at the time, but afterwards, they do”

Lind confirmed the not-loving-it-at-the-time part “It was different,” he said “I’m not used to having that much control — other people controlling me It was tough, but I got through it”

Saturday’s exercise was one way the Guard gives back to the community, Lindberg said

“We’re a part of the community … and you’d like to log a certain amount of community service hours,” he said “If you don’t schedule it and plan it, then we tend to get off in our training and not think about it”

The Duluth unit covers a large area, Lindberg said, from Pine City to the Canadian border and from the Wisconsin border to Grand Rapids

For Dearborn, being in the Guard means a three-hour drive each way for the monthly drills But nothing about it so far has disappointed her

“It’s been interesting and fun,” Dearborn said “I love it”

By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Published October 17 2010

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