/*********************************************** * Chrome CSS Drop Down Menu- (c) Dynamic Drive DHTML code library (www.dynamicdrive.com) * This notice MUST stay intact for legal use * Visit Dynamic Drive at http://www.dynamicdrive.com/ for full source code ***********************************************/
Minnesota National Guard
More than 2,000 Red Bull Soldiers prepare for a year-long deployment to Kuwait

ELIZABETH BAIER  Minnesota Public Radio
First Posted: May 15, 2011 - 1:01 am

WABASHA COUNTY, Minn -- On a crisp spring evening, Wes Moechnig heads into the milking parlor of his family's dairy farm, attaches vacuum pumps to a dozen Brown Swiss cows and waits

"I milk twice a day," Moechnig said "I take care of the barns And of course, we're probably going to be getting out into the fields pretty soon"

In this March 24, 2011 photo, Ole Olson, 56, checks on the family pet- a 1,700-hundred pound, pure-bred Texas Longhorn- called Little Boy, at his farmstead near Albert Lea, Minn Olson is a 1st Sgt with the Minnesota National Guard, and one of 55 Soldiers with the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry preparing to deploy to Afghanistan for a year to train Afghan Security Forces (AP Photos/Minnesota Public Radio, Elizabeth Baier)

But this routine will end soon for Moechnig The 22-year-old Army specialist with a boyish face and a timid smile will join roughly 2,400 troops from the Minnesota National Guard's 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division In the next few weeks, the Soldiers from 530 Minnesota communities and 15 other states will train at Camp Ripley, near Little Falls, before deploying to Kuwait in the summer

Near Albert Lea, another Soldier prepares for a similar deployment Ole Olson, 56, is one of 55 Soldiers in the 136th Infantry heading to Afghanistan for a year to train Afghan Security Forces He's old enough to be Moechnig's dad

For the next year, the two men of different generations and considerably different life experiences will put their lives on hold to serve the Army

Like Moechnig, roughly 60 percent of the troops deploying to Kuwait will be heading overseas for the first time

"It's a young man's game," said Col Eric Kerska, the 1st Brigade's commander "Us older fellas need to stay in shape"

Kerska, 46, will lead the troops during the Kuwait deployment Preparing for deployments never gets easier, he said

"The only thing easier about it is you have an idea of what to expect," said Kerska, a Rochester firefighter

Lacking a veteran Soldier's insight, Moechnig compares what he's heard about the Middle East with the only place he's ever known -- the 585 acres of southeastern Minnesota where his family has owned a dairy farm for six generations As a child, he played war games in the woods on the sprawling piece of land, hid green plastic Army men toys in his mom's planters and tended to his animals

"It's going to be so boring to look at things over there 'cause you're just in a desert," he said, speculating about the Kuwaiti terrain "It's all flat and sand and stuff Here, you've got trees and woods and hills It's going to be a lot different"

Moechnig joined the Minnesota National Guard while in high school, lured by the $20,000 bonus a recruiter offered him His parents supported that decision

Though Moechnig knows his role now is to be a Soldier, he can only imagine his Kuwait duty The last few weeks on the farm have been filled with excitement and doubt

"You're not just going to walk away from a deployment for a year and not be fazed or changed at all," he said "It's going to change me I don't know how yet, but I'm sure it will"

While Moechnig questions the year ahead of him, Olson's decades of military experience help shape his expectations of the mission ahead

"You always think about what your family's doing when you're gone," said Olson on his crop farm just north of Albert Lea "You kind of put yourself in that place and you think about what's at home"

Olson's first deployment to a US Army base in Germany was in 1974 -- 14 years before Moechnig was born The regional salesman for a roofing shingles company also served in Iraq with the Red Bulls from 2005 to 2007

Multiple deployments have taught him the best way to prepare is to tie up loose ends at home That includes little things like finding someone to plow the driveway while he's away and transferring business clients to new salespeople

"I'm up at 4:30 in the morning," he said "I wake up and my head is starting to spin: 'Okay, I've got to get this done, this done, this done, this done' "

Perhaps the biggest advantage for Olson is knowing what others expect of him As a first sergeant in the Guard, he knows he has to help prepare troops, on the field and in the classroom It's a challenging assignment

"We're going to have to learn a little bit of the dialect, some of the language that's being used (in Afghanistan)," he said "And I'm not the youngest, so it makes it a little hard for me to learn a new language"

At home, Olson knows his wife and children expect the truth from him, especially when it comes to his safety

He learned that lesson the hard way In an envelope in his home office, he keeps a small piece of shrapnel, a reminder of an improvised explosive device that hit his Humvee during his last deployment in Iraq When it happened, a friend convinced him to tell his wife

"I said, 'I'm not going to tell her because she's just going to worry I don't want people to worry about things like that because stuff happens,' he said, "He convinced me that 'No, you need to because if you don't and she finds out some place else, that's not going to be the right thing to do' "
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mpr.org

Article source

Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

Minnesota State Fair Military Appreciation Day to recognize women veterans

Posted: 2018-08-27  12:34 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The Minnesota State Fair's eighth annual Military Appreciation Day will take place Tuesday, August 28, and provide an educational opportunity for all fairgoers to learn about Minnesota's military community. This year's theme is honoring Minnesota's women veterans.

"The Minnesota State Fair is a great opportunity to bring our community together to show appreciation for the service and sacrifice of our state's veterans," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, The Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "This year, I am proud to stand with women veterans as we highlight their stories and contributions to our armed forces."

Minnesota Guardsmen learn survival skills, train with Norwegian counterparts

Posted: 2018-07-03  01:36 PM
NOREX 45 Over the course of 10 days, 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard who traveled to Norway June 17-26, 2018, for the 45th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange learned valuable survival skills and shared their knowledge with members of the Norwegian Home Guard. This year's exchange was the second to take place during the summer months in the history of the longest-running military partnership between two nations.

"It was a great experience for both the Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard," said Capt. 'Kiwi' HorgA�ien, the senior Norwegian instructor. "A cultural exchange, a social exchange and military exchange all packed into one."

The 45th exchange got off to a late start, with flight delays causing the trip to be shortened from its normal length of two weeks. The delay meant that the Minnesota Guardsmen jumped right into training, heading out to the field after just a few hours of sleep.

133rd Airlift Wing Emphasizes Combat Readiness Training

Posted: 2018-06-29  10:48 AM
Alpena ALPENA, Michigan - Approximately 300 U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 133rd Airlift Wing participated in a readiness exercise at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Alpena, Mich.

The exercise, tagged as Iron Ore, was designed test the Airmen abilities to set up operations at an unfamiliar location and receive in depth training on Ability-To-Survive and Operate (ATSO) principles while supporting airlift and aeromedical flight operations.

To ensure mission success and readiness, Airmen had to complete training at home station prior to leaving for Alpena. Some of this training included weapons qualification, gas mask fit testing, Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) familiarization, self-aid and buddy care and career field training.

Red Bulls Kickoff Division Warfighter

Posted: 2018-06-13  01:38 PM
DIV WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - "A Warfighter is an exercise that allows the Division to evaluate their ability to maneuver assets in a battle," said Master Sgt. Greg Weaver, the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. "It is designed to focus on particular areas and specific objectives to be evaluated or tested."

The Division has geared its' planning and training efforts in preparation for Warfighter since July 2017. Coordinating transportation for Soldiers and equipment was often on the mind of Maj. David Johansson, the logistics officer for the 34th ID. With the coordination of Johansson and his team, troops and equipment all converged on Camp Atterbury, enlisting the help of 89 railcars, 280 tractor-trailers, and nearly 50 buses for the movement.

"I like to say my job is to 'quiet the noise'". Johansson continued, "The noise being a real life logistical problem that could impede the exercise."

Article archive