/*********************************************** * 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
Sept. 11 attacks spurred more to enlist in military

by Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
September 7, 2011

St Paul, Minn — It's clear the events of Sept 11, 2001 played a role in many peoples' decisions to join the military The Minnesota National Guard is still benefiting from a boost in recruitment a decade later

St Paul resident Scholastica Baker is one of the thousands of Minnesotans who volunteered for military service since Sept 11, 2001 Baker, 32, was already debating whether to sign a contract with the National Guard when she heard about the attacks At the time she was a student at the University of Minnesota and working for a New York-based company

arger view
Justin and Latham Baker

"When I got to class the professor said, 'I'm old enough to remember when Kennedy died, but today is the day for you that will live in infamy,'" Baker recalled "And he is the one who actually informed me that the towers had fallen and that New York had been attacked"

Baker enlisted in the National Guard just two months after the attacks and has since risen through the ranks to command a unit of more than 200 people, the Rosemount-based B Co HHBN, Intelligence and Sustainment Company, with the 34th Infantry Division

Capt Baker has deployed twice with her husband Justin Baker, 35, who joined the Guard in 2000

"The experiences that I've had being deployed in both Bosnia and Iraq have definitely made me a stronger and better person," said Scholastica Baker

"Plus, you met me," Justin Baker joked

"Absolutely, absolutely!" she answered

The couple recalls living in married quarters while on deployment, and reminisces about their overseas tours They've even given their family a military nickname: Task Force Baker But it's clear they take their Guard duty seriously

arger view
9/11 was motivation

These days the Bakers are both in law school at William Mitchell and have a new baby Despite the difficulties of balancing military and civilian life, Justin Baker says he is proud of the contribution he and his wife have made

"Both in Bosnia and Iraq, they were really nation-building missions They were really about securing people who have a long history of strife and war, and I think we left the places better than when we found them I think we helped," he says

National Guard officials say a similar sense of wanting to be part of history has partly driven enlistment since September 11

"2001 was a banner year for us," says Minnesota Army National Guard Col Kevin Gerdes

In contrast to the several years before 2001 when the Guard didn't meet its recruiting goals, the last decade has been one of expansion

As recruitment has risen, today's soldiers are older, better educated and more physically fit and for the first time in at least four decades, the Minnesota Guard is now limiting recruitment because it's at full capacity

arger view
In Afghanistan

The Guard's recruitment goal for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 was 1,800 enlistees In fiscal year 2012 that target has been reduced to 1,653

Gerdes says while it's impossible to trace that growth directly to the terror attacks of 2001, it's clear they had an effect

"Certainly what changed was a clear understanding on the young men and women that were raising their hands to take an oath, that that oath meant they were going to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan," said Gerdes "Our recruiters made it very clear to them after 9/11 that it wasn't a matter of if you were going to go It was a matter of when you were going to go"

The Pentagon is relying heavily on National Guard and reserve troops in Iraq and Afghanistan That participation has had some serious consequences

Since 2003, 17 Minnesota Army National Guard soldiers have died in in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan A total of 94 soldiers with strong Minnesota ties from all branches of the military have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan

One of them was Chisago City Navy SEAL Nick Spehar, 24, who was killed when his helicopter went down in Afghanistan last month His father Pat Spehar says his son also enlisted after the World Trade Center was hit

arger view
Dordal family

"Visually seeing those planes fly through the buildings and realizing that someone would willfully do that to our country, trying to hurt anybody they could, really had a profound effect on us," Spehar said

The Department of Defense says Nick Spehar's helicopter was flying a combat mission when it was shot down by a Taliban-fired rocket-propelled grenade

The August 6 attack killed 30 Americans and eight Afghans It was the deadliest single incident for American forces in the war in Afghanistan The casualties included 17 members of the Navy SEALs, five Naval Special Warfare personnel who support the SEALs, three Air Force Special Operations personnel and an Army helicopter crew of five

Also killed in the crash was another Minnesotan, John Faas, 31, of Minneapolis, who graduated from Minnehaha Academy High School

At his Bloomington home, National Guard Staff Sgt Christopher Dordal, 26, recalls how the events of Sept 11 partly motivated him to join the Guard in 2002, right out of high school

"School ended that day and we just watched the news, and that was very surreal just seeing the attacks on US soil," Dordal recalled

arger view
Christopher Dordal
Soon after completing his training, Dordal deployed to Afghanistan in 2004

Dordal looks at photos of his old unit on patrol, which show him and a handful of other men in matching camouflage and dark sunglasses, posing at the top of a hill near their vehicle

"That is what it would look like on a lot of the missions," he says "Just basically going off into the middle of nowhere to little villages in the mountains"

Today, Dordal is married with a 2-year old daughter and another baby on the way He and his wife are hoping he won't deploy again too soon but the couple knows it's likely to happen eventually Mandi Dordal, 26, says deployment demands a lot of resilience from military families

"I don't want it to happen, but I know it will probably happen and we'll make it That is just kind of what you do," she said "I think it would be really, really hard I'm not going to lie and I would miss him a ton, but that is a possibility so I guess I'm always just kind of prepared for it"

It's unclear what the National Guard's role will be in future conflicts as the US begins pulling troops out of Iraq this year and from Afghanistan soon

Minnesota National Guard officials say they expect troops will continue to deploy overseas Earlier this summer, 2,400 Minnesota Red Bulls deployed to Kuwait, where they'll be for a year helping with the US drawdown from Iraq

Article source

Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

Securing the Bold North: Minnesota National Guard supports Super Bowl LII

Posted: 2018-02-02  10:45 PM
Super Bowl 52 MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - More than 400 Minnesota National Guardsmen are supporting security efforts in Minneapolis ahead of Super Bowl 52.

"This is what we do," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "When the local community can't meet the public safety needs, they come to the Guard. We're their normal partner, we're a natural partner, and we're their preferred partner when it comes to filling in the gaps that they can't fill."

At the request of the city, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton authorized the Minnesota National Guard to provide support to security efforts leading up to and during Super Bowl 52. The Guardsmen are providing direct support to and working alongside law enforcement officers from across the state. Like their civilian law enforcement partners, Minnesota Guardsmen are focused on ensuring a safe experience for the residents and visitors who are attending the Super Bowl festivities.

100 Years Ago, Camp Cody's "Grand Old Man" formed 34th Infantry Division

Posted: 2018-01-18  12:59 PM
Gen. Augustus Blocksom Decorated veteran Augustus Blocksom was a man of his time, but times were changing. He exemplified Progressive Era America prior to the Great War. Blocksom participated in all the major US Army campaigns for nearly a half-century. He fought American Indians, Spaniards, Chinese and Filipinos. He brought that experience to Camp Cody, New Mexico where he assembled units from across the mid-West to form the 34th Infantry Division in 1917.

Iowa Red Bull takes command of 34th Infantry Division

Posted: 2017-12-13  10:11 AM
Minnesota National Guard JOHNSTON, Iowa - Brig. Gen. Benjamin J. Corell, Deputy Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, assumed command of the 34th Infantry Division "Red Bulls" during a ceremony in Rosemount, Minnesota, on December 9, 2017.

Headquartered in Minnesota, the division has been commanded almost-exclusively by members of the Minnesota National Guard since 1968.

"Typically there's been very few people who have been allowed to command the 34th Infantry Division that didn't come from the state of Minnesota," Corell said.

Minnesota-based aviation unit honors storied division, enters into new, 'expeditionary' era

Posted: 2017-12-12  11:29 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade (ECAB), who recently celebrated a year full of achievements, have embraced a new name: Red Devils.

The St. Paul-based unit hosted its annual aviation brigade ball Dec. 9, at the Envision Event Center in Oakdale, Minnesota, where the unit's new logo was unveiled.

Soldiers of the 34th ECAB, which falls under and supports the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, will continue to wear the Red Bull insignia on their uniforms. However, they will now be known and referred to as the Red Devils, a name that pays homage to the division's historical accomplishments and fierce warfighting.

Article archive