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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota Guard artillery Soldiers secure Minot during flood operations

Minot, NORTH DAKOTA- The Minnesota National Guard is assisting their North Dakota National Guard neighbors in their flood response effort July 5-Aug 2 The Minnesota National Guard is conducting levee patrols, manning traffic control points (TCP), and quick reaction forces giving some relief to hundreds of North Dakota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who have been on active duty for 40-60 days The first groups of Minnesota Soldiers are from the Willmar-based 682nd Engineering Battalion and the 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery from Montevideo

The 151st units comprising Team Thunder performed missions including traffic control points, roving guards, overseeing pumping stations, manning multi-function response teams and other missions as directed by the overall National Guard Task Force Minot These quick reaction forces respond to a variety of needs like high water fording, evacuations, dike patrol and discouraging sightseers and looters in Minot and surrounding communities

"We've assisted city officials in getting into key infrastructure areas like hotels, schools and malls, so they can get a head start on pumping before the areas open up," said 1st Lt Curtis Jerzak, the officer in charge of Team Thunder
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The homeowners in Minot, Burlington and other communities were very supportive and appreciative of the Soldiers in spite of the access restrictions Families that have lost their homes would still stop at the traffic control points with cookies, pizza and drinks for the Guardsmen

"The Guard is very important They are our front line of defense as we have our homes opened up, airing out," said Kevin Sebastian, an Eastside Estates homeowner

"It made you wish you could provide more for them than just their security," said Staff Sgt Brian Hesse of Team Thunder "We had a very good working relationship with the citizens They were very understanding even when they were barred from reentering their homes," said Jerzac "It got to a level where the Soldiers would actually have the phone numbers for the residents and would call them when their homes were accessible The Soldiers got to know the cars, the families and the kids from the neighborhood"

"One example of the interaction between our Soldiers and the civilians," said Jerzac, "was when we had a TCP in Burlington near the river where a family got a ride on an airboat to see their home which was completely devastated The mom had a little girl that was balling her eyes out It was a real sad story One of the Soldiers got some cookies and said "˜if it's alright with your mommy I'd like to give you these cookies' She looked up at him, stopped crying and got a big smile on her face It completely changed her day around"

Team Thunder Soldiers, many of whom volunteered for flood duty, hail from field artillery companies including the Montevideo headquarters, Marshall's Alpha Battery, Bravo Battery from Madison and Olivia, Charlie Battery in Morris and Ortonville, Echo Battery in Anoka and the 175th Forward Support Company in Appleton Team Thunder also included North Dakota Soldiers "The collaboration between the Minnesota and North Dakota Soldiers was outstanding You would not be able to tell we were from different units," said Jerzac "The professionalism of the Soldiers as well; the mayor and key city and Guard leaders commented on how well the Soldiers treated the them and the citizens when they visited the TCPs"

When the Minnesota National Guard has moved on to other community support missions, a few highlights of Minot Flood Response 2011 will be remembered "The thing I'm most proud of is that we allowed the North Dakota National Guard Soldiers, some have been on active duty for months, we gave them a break from the constant flood fight they've had this year," said Jerzac "There is also a piece of mind for the citizens knowing that there is an outside entity that is here watching out for their interests They see us driving around with our HUMMWVs keeping people out of the wrong areas; keeping their homes as safe as we can, so they are not looted or vandalized," said Hesse

17 July, 2011 Story and photos Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ewer Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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