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Minnesota National Guard
War zone, Minnesota

http://stmediastartribune.com/images/502*277/10souveniers0116jpg
Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune
Actors rehearsed the action before shooting a scene from "Souvenirs," being filmed at Traxler's Hunting Preserve in Le Center, Minn The setting was chosen by the filmmakers to re-create the wintry battles during World War II's Battle of the Bulge



A snowy woods in southern Minnesota stood in for a World War II battle zone as an independent movie called it a wrap

SOUVENIRS

What: An independent feature film about how military service played a part in three generations of a Minnesota family

Budget: $12 million

Stars: James Cromwell ("Babe"), Jonathan Bennett ("Mean Girls")

Director: Sam Fischer

Release date: Not yet known

http://stmediastartribune.com/images/208*138/2souveniers0116jpg

Actor John Cromwell
Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

It looked like a classic midwinter hunting accident Two men in woolen coats and carrying rifles helped a third through snowy woods to a waiting jeep The man in the middle limped awkwardly, his left pant leg stained red

"You're gonna be all right," said one man to the wounded man as they laid him across the back seat

"Cut," yelled the director "That's good"

The scene on Friday afternoon was Traxler's Hunting Preserve, a game lodge in Le Center, 90 minutes south of the Twin Cities The landscape was chosen for its resemblance to the Ardennes in France, where the Battle of the Bulge was fought in the winter of 1944-45 The three actors, John Cromwell, Aaron Courteau and Reed Sigmund, dropped character and returned to shivering in their World War II Army infantry uniforms as they awaited the next setup

It wasn't a Hollywood scene by a long shot Fishing shanties formed a tiny village where extras and crew members could shake off the sub-freezing chill Production assistants dragged supplies to and fro on toboggans The director's traditional folding chair was perched in a snowbank and its occupant, Sam Fischer, made snow angels between takes

Locations both hot and cold

"Souvenirs," a $12 million independent production featuring a Minnesota cast, crew and financing, was entering its last days of principal photography The film is the story of a generation-spanning Minnesota military family James Cromwell, the kindly farmer in the film "Babe," joined the production from Los Angeles to play a taciturn World War II veteran His lookalike son, John, who lives in St Paul, plays the character as a younger man The only other Hollywood actor in the film is Jonathan Bennett, Lindsay Lohan's boyfriend in "Mean Girls" He plays the old veteran's grandson, who is deployed to Iraq as a member of the Minnesota National Guard's Red Bulls Production of the film began in July, with a limestone quarry near Mankato standing in for the Iraqi desert

The movie, slated to wrap filming this past weekend, doesn't have a release date or distributor yet, but producer Craig Christiansen said a number of parties have expressed interest based on the footage shot so far

For a low-budget production, "Souvenirs" boasts impressive production values Last summer the Cokato limestone pit rumbled with the sounds of two Black Hawk helicopters and five battle-ready Humvees The vehicles, along with a squad of National Guard personnel on a training weekend, were lent to the film by the Department of Defense, which approves of the script's pro-military and pro-family themes,

During the World War II scenes, rare US military planes fly overhead, while one of the few surviving Ford-built jeeps clanks across the battlefield alongside German halftracks

"There hasn't been a P-38 fighter featured in a film since 1946," said Christiansen "There's only a handful of them in the world, and three can get airborne"

Those vehicles were also lent to the production, by local collectors of military antiques In effect, a movie about battlefield souvenirs is being made with battlefield souvenirs The troops in the World War II scenes are military re-enacters volunteering their time

Despite production challenges including large-scale explosions, bullet squibs, and hauling bulky handheld video cameras through unstable ankle-deep mashed-potatoes snow, the filming has gone smoothly

Armorer John Brindley, who provides the film's guns and oversees their safety issues, did get some curious stares when he brought 30 machine guns and a briefcase with "explosives" warning labels into Bloomington's La Quinta Inn, however

"As you pass through the continental breakfast area, well, people were interested," he said


Colin Covert "¢ 612-673-7186
By COLIN COVERT, Star Tribune
Last update: January 18, 2011 - 12:04 PM

 

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Minnesota Guardsmen learn survival skills, train with Norwegian counterparts

Posted: 2018-07-03  01:36 PM
NOREX 45 Over the course of 10 days, 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard who traveled to Norway June 17-26, 2018, for the 45th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange learned valuable survival skills and shared their knowledge with members of the Norwegian Home Guard. This year's exchange was the second to take place during the summer months in the history of the longest-running military partnership between two nations.

"It was a great experience for both the Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard," said Capt. 'Kiwi' HorgA�ien, the senior Norwegian instructor. "A cultural exchange, a social exchange and military exchange all packed into one."

The 45th exchange got off to a late start, with flight delays causing the trip to be shortened from its normal length of two weeks. The delay meant that the Minnesota Guardsmen jumped right into training, heading out to the field after just a few hours of sleep.



133rd Airlift Wing Emphasizes Combat Readiness Training

Posted: 2018-06-29  10:48 AM
Alpena ALPENA, Michigan - Approximately 300 U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 133rd Airlift Wing participated in a readiness exercise at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Alpena, Mich.

The exercise, tagged as Iron Ore, was designed test the Airmen abilities to set up operations at an unfamiliar location and receive in depth training on Ability-To-Survive and Operate (ATSO) principles while supporting airlift and aeromedical flight operations.

To ensure mission success and readiness, Airmen had to complete training at home station prior to leaving for Alpena. Some of this training included weapons qualification, gas mask fit testing, Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) familiarization, self-aid and buddy care and career field training.



Red Bulls Kickoff Division Warfighter

Posted: 2018-06-13  01:38 PM
DIV WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - "A Warfighter is an exercise that allows the Division to evaluate their ability to maneuver assets in a battle," said Master Sgt. Greg Weaver, the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. "It is designed to focus on particular areas and specific objectives to be evaluated or tested."

The Division has geared its' planning and training efforts in preparation for Warfighter since July 2017. Coordinating transportation for Soldiers and equipment was often on the mind of Maj. David Johansson, the logistics officer for the 34th ID. With the coordination of Johansson and his team, troops and equipment all converged on Camp Atterbury, enlisting the help of 89 railcars, 280 tractor-trailers, and nearly 50 buses for the movement.

"I like to say my job is to 'quiet the noise'". Johansson continued, "The noise being a real life logistical problem that could impede the exercise."



Minnesota-based aviation unit takes part in Warfighter Exercise

Posted: 2018-06-08  11:59 AM
34ECAB WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - More than 150 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade are here participating in a multi-echelon training event, Warfighter Exercise 18-5, May 30 to June 15.

The exercise, which is part live and part virtual, is testing the St. Paul, Minnesota-based aviation unit's ability to conduct operations and mission command in a high-intensity, complex operating environment. Soldiers are being challenged to take decisive action as they focus on air-ground operations -- or synchronizing and integrating aviation operations into the scheme of maneuver planned and conducted by forces on the ground.

In this case, the units on the ground are being commanded by the Rosemount, Minnesota-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, which is also participating in the exercise.



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