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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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Month of the Military Child recognizes contributions of military kids

Posted: 2018-04-07  01:54 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the contributions and sacrifices military children make so their family members can serve. An estimated 15,000 children in Minnesota have been affected by the deployment of a parent.

"Military children bear a lot while their family members serve," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "It is up to us to support these resilient kids and help to lessen their burden."

An event to honor military kids in Minnesota will take place April 13, 2018, at the Mall of America rotunda from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Activities will include appearances by the Teddy Bear Band and meet and greets with Nickelodeon characters.

Forging a path to career success

Posted: 2018-03-16  08:45 AM
Col. Angela Steward-Randle ST. PAUL, Minn. - Col. Angela Steward-Randle grew up in a military family - her father served in the Army on active duty - but it was a chance encounter with a friend at college that led her to want to make the military a career.

"My story is no different than many others," Steward-Randle, the Director of Human Resources, Manpower and Personnel for the Minnesota National Guard said. "I was in college and looking for financial resources to help pay for it."

Her college friend suggested they attend a summer training with the Reserve Officer Training Corps that had no obligation and could earn them some money. The friend never ended up going, but Steward-Randle did. After earning recognition as the top honor graduate and receiving an offer of a scholarship, she was hooked.

Minnesota Guardsman Receives Award for Combating Drugs in his Community

Posted: 2018-03-09  03:13 PM
Counterdrug WOODBURY, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Benjamin Kroll, an analyst with the Minnesota National Guard's Counterdrug Task Force who is assigned to work with the Hennepin County Sherriff's Office was recognized for his achievements as the Analyst of the Year during the 2018 Minnesota Association of Crime and Intelligence Analysts Training Symposium in Woodbury, Minnesota, March 7, 2018.

Through a partnership with Minnesota law enforcement agencies throughout the state, the Minnesota National Guard Counterdrug Task Force (MNCDTF) supports the anti-drug initiatives to counter all primary drug threats and vulnerabilities through the effective application of available assets, said Maj. Jon Dotterer, Counterdrug Coordinator for the State of Minnesota. The goal for the program is to support federal, state, tribal, and local agencies in the detection, disruption, interdiction, and curtailment of illicit drugs.

Kroll is one of sixteen service members on the Counterdrug Task Force that provides this force-multiplying service to our communities against illicit drug-use. With the information that law enforcement provide through their patrols and daily operations, Kroll and his colleagues across the state assist by putting together a figurative picture with all of the gathered information which aids in identifying how to move forward with legal action to deter or prevent the sale or use of illegal narcotic drugs.

Women Opened Doors in Minnesota National Guard

Posted: 2018-03-08  09:05 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - "The battlefront is no place for women to be," said Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Kurtzweg, 125th Field Artillery, in an article published in 1976. "There are certain jobs girls say they can do, but they just can't do ... the battlefront is no place for women to be. Other countries in the world use women in combat, but the U.S. has not come around to that way of thinking." Kathy Berg, a New Ulm reporter summarized at the time. "So women in the New Ulm unit take care of personnel files and pay records and leave the fighting to the men."

The Minnesota National Guard has "come around to that way of thinking" since those early days of gender integration. In the last 44 years women have made momentous strides toward inclusion and acceptance. Their accomplishments are testimony to their fortitude and the progressive development of the Minnesota National Guard.

When an accomplished female Soldier is credited with breaking barriers she will often pass that honor to the women that preceded her. Brig. Gen. Johanna Clyborne is such a leader. She acknowledges that she is one of the first females in the Minnesota National Guard who has held key leadership roles, however she sees it differently. "I feel responsible for all women in uniform," said Clyborne. "Women before me opened the door, now I've cleared the room. It's up to the women behind me to hold the room."

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