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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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Iowa Red Bull takes command of 34th Infantry Division

Posted: 2017-12-13  10:11 AM
Minnesota National Guard JOHNSTON, Iowa - Brig. Gen. Benjamin J. Corell, Deputy Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, assumed command of the 34th Infantry Division "Red Bulls" during a ceremony in Rosemount, Minnesota, on December 9, 2017.

Headquartered in Minnesota, the division has been commanded almost-exclusively by members of the Minnesota National Guard since 1968.

"Typically there's been very few people who have been allowed to command the 34th Infantry Division that didn't come from the state of Minnesota," Corell said.



Minnesota-based aviation unit honors storied division, enters into new, 'expeditionary' era

Posted: 2017-12-12  11:29 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade (ECAB), who recently celebrated a year full of achievements, have embraced a new name: Red Devils.

The St. Paul-based unit hosted its annual aviation brigade ball Dec. 9, at the Envision Event Center in Oakdale, Minnesota, where the unit's new logo was unveiled.

Soldiers of the 34th ECAB, which falls under and supports the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, will continue to wear the Red Bull insignia on their uniforms. However, they will now be known and referred to as the Red Devils, a name that pays homage to the division's historical accomplishments and fierce warfighting.



Minnesota Nice Extends to Puerto Rico

Posted: 2017-12-08  12:08 PM
Minnesota National Guard CAMP SANTIAGO, Puerto Rico - It has been more than two months since Hurricane Maria stuck Puerto Rico, leaving a trail of disaster behind it. The island was in dire need of some extra help. More than 230 Air National Guardsmen from 29 states have been deployed to the island and are helping in any way they can.

Eleven of those Airmen are from the Minnesota National Guard's 148th Fighter Wing out of Duluth, Minn. and the 133rd Airlift Wing out of St. Paul, Minn., are no exception in their desire to lend a helping hand. They have been at Camp Santiago, Puerto Rico, since before Thanksgiving and will leave around mid-December. Their mission is to feed military and civilian hurricane relief workers, giving them the much-needed fuel to complete their mission throughout the day.



Governor Mark Dayton installs new Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General

Posted: 2017-11-04  04:16 PM
TAG installation ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton administered the oath of office to Maj. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, installing him as the Minnesota National Guard's 31st Adjutant General during a ceremony in St. Paul, November 4, 2017.

"General Jensen has been a tremendous leader of the Minnesota National Guard throughout his years of dedicated service," said Governor Dayton. "He has served in two top leadership positions, as the Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, and also as the Chief of Staff at the Guard's Joint Force Headquarters. I am confident that he will continue to provide the same outstanding leadership as his predecessor, General Rick Nash."

Jensen most recently served as the Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. He previously held positions as Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Africa and Southern European Task Force, Minnesota National Guard Director of the Joint Staff and Minnesota National Guard Assistant Adjutant General - Army.



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