| Bataan Death March Vets provide context for memorial march
This was John Quinlen's first march
John moved from Brainerd with his mother and sister to Pasadena, Calif, in the early '50s, at about age 13 He stayed there John went to college and then to law school, marrying and settling in California In 2007 he retired as a justice within the California Superior Court system
But, he said, until this year he hadn't had a real visit back to the area, the area where his father Clinton raised his own family and served as a lieutenant with "A Company," a company of tankers in the Minnesota National Guard
Lt Quinlen left his family in February 1941 for what was described as a "year of federal training" at Ft Lewis, Wash
What happened was much different Col E B Miller, who later wrote the first-hand account "Bataan Uncensored" when he returned to the states, recalled being summoned as battalion commander to meet immediately with the Commanding General of the Armored Force in Ft Knox, Ky That was August 1941 There, Maj Miller learned that the battalion would sail for the Philippines in September, but that the location was to be kept a secret
"You may have to come off the boat fighting," Miller was told by the General's staff
When the shock wore off, Miller replied that the United States was not yet in the war, and also that these were Citizen-Soldiers Their families and the community would have very pointed questions if the battalion left Ft Lewis What should he tell the press?
His message to the press would be this: "that the 194th Tank Battalion will sail on or about September 5th for tropical service Period!" wrote Miller
With the meeting adjourned, Miller sat quiet for a moment
Despite apprehension, it would be a "very pleasant duty" to deliver this historic message back to battalion This would be the first armored unit to move outside of the continental United States This is what they had been training for
Miller telephoned back to Ft Lewis to relay the order The executive officer was not available, so Capt Clint Quinlen - John Quinlen's father - took the call Miller told Quinlen to tell headquarters to cease maneuvers and prepare the battalion for overseas service immediately
"Clint was so surprised I could almost hear him swallow," Miller wrote
The battalion, including the 64 men who made up A Co, arrived in the Philippines in September and established their positions It was Dec 8, on their side of the international date line, when the Japanese bombed Manila and Pearl Harbor
The rest of the story has been well told Months of sustained battle followed American and Philippino forces on the Bataan peninsula were surrounded, cut off from the rest of the fight Morale suffered Their rations ran out Eventually, on April 9, 1942, Maj Gen Edward King, allied commander of the Bataan peninsula, against higher orders, surrendered to the Japanese Ten thousand American troops - including Miller, Quinlen, and the rest of A Co - were led on a brutal eight-day march without food or water, forced into freight cars, packed into ships, and put into forced labor in Japan until the end of the war
"My mother had Col Miller's book, so I read that of course," said John Quinlen at a water stop on State Highway 371, a couple of miles south of Brainerd
Quinlen has always been interested in the great campaigns and battles of World War II, and he noted that Miller's book is used as a primary source in many other books about the allied campaign in the Philippines
"People who know about my background will occasionally lend me a book that I wouldn't have otherwise known about," he said
For each of the Soldiers who were on the march, there are dozens of stories
Ken Porwoll, an A Co member and survivor of the march, has talked about seeing a steaming pot of stew in a Japanese camp during the march When a note sounded in the camp, the Japanese soldiers stopped what they were doing, turned toward the direction of the note, and began an elaborate ritual of bowing and praying They were facing away from the marchers, towards the Emperor, and so Porwoll fearlessly grabbed the pot and took it back to the men
Springs of natural water were common on the route, but troops caught taking drinks were beaten or killed When a dirty pool of ditchwater was found, however, the captors encouraged the prisoners to stop for a drink
The marchers were fed only once or twice - as little as a teaspoon of unboiled rice Sleep during the march was done in cramped farmyard pens, if at all
Miller and Quinlen managed to stay together during the march In his book, Miller writes about walking through a small village with Quinlen and some others The captors took a break, and Miller asked some residents for water Then, he writes, "a miracle took place" - the residents reappeared with buckets of clean water to drink
And for all that, the hellships were worse Miller survived the transport on the ship to Japan; Quinlen didn't
Capt Joseph Sanganoo, the current A Co commander and officiating officer of the memorial march, can't say that anyone can truly understand what those men endured in World War II unless they lived through it and felt it for themselves But the annual march in Brainerd helps to keep the memory alive
"It humbles me," said Sanganoo about what those Soldiers experienced on the march "It really makes me think about whether, honestly, if I'm living my life in a way that honors those guys"
The trip from California has been good for Quinlen and his wife
In addition to visiting relatives and participating in the march, they visited the Minnesota Military Museum at Camp Ripley and took a closer look at the 194th Tank Battalion artifacts in the Brainerd armory In those artifacts, more of his father's story can be found, as well as the stories of many others
But for now, John Quinlen was content to just enjoy the walk and reflect
"It's been a great time," he said "It's all good"
Story and photos by 1/34 BCT Public Affairs
Minnesota National Guard
10 April, 2011
1st Brigade Combat Team links
Officers convene for 112th Meeting of the National Guard Association of Minnesota
Posted: 2017-04-28 12:38 PM
MANKATO, Minn. - Commissioned leaders of the Minnesota National Guard convened for the 112th General Conference of the National Guard Association of Minnesota at the Verizon Wireless Center and Hilton Garden Inn, Mankato, on April 22, 2017.
The annual gathering of association members - who serve as advocates for the needs of Soldiers, Airmen and their families - includes a business meeting, commanders march, formal dining event and transfer of responsibility to the chapter's new president.
The day's event began with a business meeting, which focused on the association's mission of educating and informing legislators on the issues facing the current and future role of the National Guard in serving Minnesota communities. The strategic planning meeting was attended by Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, his staff and unit commanders.
Camp Ripley earns top environmental award
Posted: 2017-04-26 02:09 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Department of Defense announced that Camp Ripley was selected as the winner of the Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for Natural Resources Conservation, Large Installation.
The awards recognize individuals, teams and installations for their exceptional environmental achievements and innovative, cost-effective environmental practices.
"The winners' efforts strengthen the Department of Defense's position as a resourceful environmental steward, both at home and abroad, and demonstrate our continued commitment to fulfilling mission needs through advanced environmental practices and technologies," stated James A. MacStravic, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
Minnesota Guardsman finds work with victims in the military and the local community rewarding
Posted: 2017-04-26 10:57 AM
COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Nicquie Neely has been working with victims of sexual assault for four years in the Minnesota National Guard and also volunteers as a victim advocate in the community. As a victim advocate, it's her job to believe and support victims through a difficult process that can often involve extensive medical care and legal proceedings.
"Ever since I joined the Guard and heard about the SHARP program and learned what a victim advocate was, I always wanted to be one," said Neely. "And then I learned that you had to be an E-6 to be in that position, so the minute I got promoted I asked my commander if I could go to the training."
Neely is a combat medic and the full-time training and administration NCO with Company C, 134th Brigade Support Battalion. In addition to military victim advocate training, Neely also attends regular training with the civilian organization she volunteers for - SOS Sexual Violence Services in Ramsey County.
Minnesota National Guard Remembers the Holocaust with Jewish Community Relations Council
Posted: 2017-04-24 10:43 AM
Washington - Members of the Minnesota National Guard and the Air Force Reserve traveled to Washington D.C. with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (also known as the JCRC), to visit the Holocaust Museum, April 4, 2017, to honor the victims of the Holocaust. Also, traveling with this group were St. Paul and Minneapolis police officers along with students from various high schools around the state. For those in uniform that day, it was an opportunity to see, hear and experience the stories of victims and survivors of the Holocaust.
Each Service member who attended was asked to bring back a summary of their experience in the form of a presentation, professional discussion or briefing to their respective unit in order to help other Guard members better understand and remember that horrible event, to honor the courage of the victims and survivors, and to remain vigilant as members of the U.S. military.
"The honor and privilege of accompanying members of the Minnesota National Guard to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. met so many goals," said Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the JCRC. "I wanted to reinforce the importance of the commitment of the U.S. military to democracy. After all, it was the Allies that defeated Nazi Germany and ultimately put an end to the Holocaust."