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Minnesota National Guard
An American meal for the Norwegian Exchange

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn – What do you get when you mix together restaurant owners and community leaders in St Paul, Minn with 110 Norwegian Home Guard members, Croatian Army members and Service members from the Minnesota National Guard?  You get a St Paul-style meal served at Camp Ripley for the 38th Annual Norwegian Exchange Feb 15, 2011

The 2011 Norwegian Exchange included a meal prepared and served by members of the national recognized organization known as Serving Our Troops (SOT)  They traveled from St Paul to Camp Ripley to prepare the “American Meal” for this year’s exchange program  Each year during the exchange, the Home Guard members are treated to what is known as a traditional American meal  The special meal included: a steak from Mancini’s Char House, a salad from Cosetta’s Italian Market and Pizzaria, chicken wings from Skinner’s Pub and Eatery, riblets from Tinuci’s, beer breaded walleye fingers from O’Gara’s Bar and Grill, Cossetta Bruschetta and Buttercream Cake from Cossetta’s and it was topped off with 1919 Root Beer from Shell’s Brewery

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“The Serving Our Troops (SOT) guys are some of the most generous people you will ever meet,” said Col Scott St Sauver, Camp Ripley Post Commander  “The amount of time, energy and product they put into each and every event they put on is tremendous  Each event they put on is also a professional event that is truly family focused”

This was not a typical SOT event  This event was much smaller and served meals to Servicemenbers from partner countries rather than Minnesota Guardsman and their families

For the Norwegians, this was an opportunity for them to not only eat an American style meal, but to also learn about the great work the SOT organization has been doing to support the Minnesota National Guard Service members

"I was very impressed by the American support and generosity shown from Support Our Troops," said Thomas M Gilje, a Norwegian Home Guard youth member of red platoon

In addition to the meal there was also a program that showcased some of the many uniforms that have been worn by the Minnesota National Guard going all the way back to the Civil War  Doug Bekke, the curator at the Minnesota Military Museum, had models to show how the uniforms have changed over the years and explained how each of the uniforms met the requirements of each respective era

"I'm learning a lot about American culture,” said Ole Morten Anderson, a Norwegian Home Guard youth member of blue platoon  “It was nice to experience a traditional American meal  I really liked the display of different uniforms  I will never forget this experience"

At the end of the evening, the Post Commander and the officer in charge of the Norwegian contingent recognized the hard work of the SOT organization with some small tokens of appreciation

“We can’t thank you enough,” said St Sauver  “Please join me in another round of applause Wasn’t that steak just outstanding?”  The nearly two hundred people in the recreation center stood and gave a thunderous applause following St Sauver’s remarks

The “American Meal” is one of the many cultural events that the Norwegian’s will have the chance to experience during the 38th Annual Norwegian Exchange, which is the longest running exchange of its type in the Department of Defense

By 1st Lt Kenneth R Toole
Camp Ripley Public Affairs Officer
Feb 15, 2011

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