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Minnesota National Guard
Young Vadnais Heights couples deaths called murder-suicide

Medical examiner's early report has gun in husband's hand


An undated photo from Facebook shows Katherine (Quam) Pohjonen, 19, and her husband, Kalen Pohjonen, 21 The deaths of the pair, whose bodies were found dead Tuesday in their Vadnais Heights condominium, were classified as a murder-suicide Kalen Pohjonen, a Minnesota National Guardsman, was to be deployed to Kuwait in May (Courtesy photo)

The deaths of a Vadnais Heights couple earlier this week have been classified as a murder-suicide, though authorities have not identified a motive

Katherine Marie Pohjonen, 19, was shot with a handgun by Kalen Ryan Pohjonen, 21, before he used the gun to kill himself, according to a preliminary report released Wednesday by the Ramsey County medical examiner

Investigators were called to a condominium at 859 Woodgate Drive about 10 am Tuesday after a colleague of Katherine Pohjonen's reported that she had not shown up for work, according to Randy Gustafson, public information officer for the Ramsey County sheriff's office

Investigators looked in a window at the home and saw the couple dead inside

The handgun was found at the scene, according to the sheriff's office

How long the couple had been dead before their bodies were found was unclear Wednesday Gustafson said there was no clear indication of motive, such as a suicide note

The family of Katherine (Quam) Pohjonen released a statement about the deaths Wednesday to the Hudson (Wis) Star-Observer The family is from Hudson

"Kathy and Kalen were dearly loved by families and friends The family was close and always got together to celebrate holidays and birthdays We are touched and thankful for those who have reached out to us in this trying time Kathy and Kalen will be missed and forever in our hearts and thoughts"

Kalen Pohjonen's family could not be reached for comment Kalen was a member of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Infantry Division, known as the Red Bulls, according to National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Kevin Olson After enlisting in August 2007, he became a specialist in the St Paul-based B Company, 1st Battalion, 194th Armor Regiment

Kalen Pohjonen had never been deployed but was due to ship out in May His unit will be stationed in Kuwait and operating in Kuwait and Iraq, Olson said

Katherine Pohjonen would have turned 20 today

Ryan Bynum, who lives two doors down from the couple's home, said he had plans to go out for his birthday Friday night with Kalen Pohjonen but decided to stay in because he was tired Bynum's wife heard Kalen Pohjonen knocking on their door about 3 am Saturday but didn't answer because it was so late That was the last Bynum heard or saw of his neighbor

By Sarah Horner and Tad Vezner
Pioneer Press

Updated: 01/26/2011 11:48:35 PM CST

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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.

Guard Heritage Suffers with Loss of Artillery Unit

Posted: 2017-10-04  11:22 AM
ETAB ANOKA, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard lost one of its most historically significant units when the 151st Artillery's E Battery, (Target Acquisition) cased its colors in a ceremony at the Anoka High School Aug. 19, 2017.

The Target Acquisition Battery (ETAB), 151st Field Artillery is one of the oldest and most decorated units in the Minnesota National Guard and the 34th Infantry Division. "Both Minnesota and the Division lose the proud lineage that goes back to Civil War days, through WW1 and WW2, and had a significant amount of battle streamers," said 151st Field Artillery Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Patrick Cornwell.

The 151st Field Artillery draws its lineage from the 1st Regiment, Minnesota Heavy Artillery of 1864 which fought two major campaigns in Tennessee during the Civil War.

In one month: Minnesota Guardsmen support Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria

Posted: 2017-09-29  02:25 PM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - In the span of a few weeks, three major hurricanes hit different parts of the southern United States, causing widespread damage and destruction and requiring the response of agencies around the country. The Minnesota National Guard is one of the many organizations that have responded, sending Soldiers and Airmen to Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

"This is the most gratifying deployment of my career," said Capt. Jeremy Maxey with the 133rd Airlift Wing who was called back from his vacation early to go to the Virgin Islands. "It means a lot to be able to actually directly help people. It's why I serve. Throughout my career I've deployed numerous times, but this is the one where you actually see the people you serve."

The start of the month brought the first request for assistance. On Sept. 1, two CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 11 personnel from the St. Cloud-based B Company, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment left for Texas following Hurricane Harvey to transport personnel and equipment in support of response efforts.

Finding fellowship in the sacred mission

Posted: 2017-09-26  12:02 PM
Minnesota National Guard CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - One of the most difficult, most sacred, honorable duties in the military is one that people don't often think about. It takes compassion, empathy, care, and requires great resilience. It is one that when called upon to train for, they hope to rarely perform because it means another Soldier has been lost. It is the duty of casualty notification officer and casualty assistance officer.

About 45 Minnesota Army National Guard Soldiers came to Camp Ripley, Minnesota, on September 21-22, 2017, for a Reset Seminar to find fellowship in one specific thing they have in common: delivering the worst news in the Army.

When a Soldier dies at home or overseas, CNOs and CAOs must notify and help families through the process, including paperwork, benefits, and funeral arrangements.

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