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Patched into tradition, Crazyhorse receives right arm Red Bull
It's not every day a Company serving overseas in a combat zone has the chance to receive their combat patches on top of one of the oldest buildings known to man, but for a group of Minnesota National Guard Soldiers this possibility became a reality
Charlie Company, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor (Co C, 1-194 CAB), based out of Sauk Centre, Minn, was deployed to Camp Virginia, Kuwait in the middle of July to assist in Operation New Dawn - the drawdown of American forces from Iraq Their year-long mission has them on the road the majority of the time It's called convoy escort security - providing protection to large semi-size trucks hauling supplies in and out of Iraq
Since they arrived overseas the company has accomplished a great deal As of October 1, the company has traveled more than 100,000 miles in Iraq and has escorted over 4,000 trucks safely through the desert land As a result of being deployed to an area of operation where there is combat action, Charlie Company was awarded the combat patch
On September 11, a group of Soldiers from Charlie Company had just reached the half-way point of one of their missions in the south eastern area of Iraq when they were told they would be receiving the Red Bull combat patch to wear on their right shoulder
"It was a normal mission for us," said Spc Luke A Peterson, an armor crewman from Duluth, Minn "We had been on the road escorting trucks for close to nine hours and were ready to take showers and get some sleep when word came down that our sergeant major worked it out with the Iraqi police to let us receive our patches on top of the ziggurat"
The Ziggurat of Ur dates back thousands of years It was constructed in a city called Ur, which was located in the present-day Dhi Qar Province of Iraq As a temple with other buildings linked to the dwelling place, the step-like pyramids were built in honor of a moon god named Nanna Only priests were allowed inside to offer sacrifices to this god and one priest was always stationed inside to act as a guard The base of the ziggurat served as an area of resting courters with a kitchen
It is said the total length of the structure measured 210 feet and 150 feet in width The top of the ziggurat where a temple would have been never survived over the years but it is estimated to have stood around 100 feet in height The ziggurat was the heart of the city Built out of mud, reed and oven baked bricks - archeologists say it was surrounded by other buildings which are now long gone - withered away by time
According to the Bible, Abraham, one of the earliest documented human beings- lived in this area where the ziggurat is located
"It's pretty surreal to think of it this way - something I'll remember for the rest of my life," said Andrew L Schmaltz, an infantryman from Big Lake, Minn "Most guys my age are in college or working back home Here I am at the birthplace of man receiving my combat patch"
When the Soldiers reached the top of the steps they could see the far distant span of open desert These individuals who hailed from all corners of Minnesota had found themselves in a place they never thought they would be - the oldest standing structures of all civilization After a period of exploring the structure it was time to fulfill the objective of the mission
Standing in formation at the top while others manned the gun trucks at the bottom, Sgt Maj Judson Meyer placed the red bull insignia on the right shoulder of the awe struck Soldiers
Charlie Company wears the Red Bull patch, the insignia of the 34th Infantry Division A Soldier created the design in 1917 at Camp Cody, New Mexico depicting a red steer over a black Mexican water jug called an "olla" The Red Bulls received their nickname in World War II after German Troops started calling them "Red Devils" or "Red Bulls"
"It was one of those things that I wouldn't change for the world," said Spc Peterson "Twenty years down the line when I'm talking to my kids and grand kids I can tell them where I was on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 - in Iraq, helping to finish this war"
The events of 9/11 affected all of America and the rest of the world It was an awakening for thousands of young men and women everywhere For many, it was a call to serve - including those of Charlie Company
"September 11, 2001 It's why I'm here," said Spc Ryan D Steinhoffer, an armor crewman from Sedan, Minn "I never thought something like that could happen to our country, but it did The loss of life that day is without question horrible Since then, so many have sacrificed to make sure an event of that nature never occurs on US soil again We're going to honor them by finishing the job here in Iraq"
Over half of Charlie Company has been deployed to a combat zone previously In 2005, Co C was sent overseas to fight during Operation Iraqi Freedom They spent 16 months in-country - one of the longest deployed units in Iraq since the war began
Sgt Aaron J McGowan, a signal support systems specialist from Lakeville, Minn, has taken part in both deployments and is happy to see his fellow brothers and sisters receive the significant insignia
"It's great to see my guys who have never deployed before receive their combat patch after spending so much time training and running missions," said Sgt McGowan "People recognize the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division patch throughout the whole theatre of operations because of what we accomplished during Operation Iraqi Freedom and now Operation New Dawn It's something I'll always carry on my right shoulder for the rest of my military career I'm happy to see more Soldiers patched into the tradition"
Soldiers who were not patched at the ziggurat that day were back at Camp Virginia having a ceremony of their own The 194th Armor Battalion, including Charlie Company, stood in formation while Lt Col Brian Melton and Command Sgt Maj John Lepowsky approached each Company to grant them their combat patches With the flag of the red, white and blue and the Minnesota State flag flying overhead, the Battalion spent their ceremony honoring and remembering those who lost their lives ten years ago in the attacks and in the war on terror
"We will never forget the lives lost that September morning ten years ago," Capt John M Hobot, commander of Charlie Company "Crazyhorse" "We are going to finish the job we started here last deployment during the troop surge and leave proud with what we have accomplished in Iraq Today is a day to reflect on what we really have in the United States, a society that accepts political differences and diversity among it's people which is protected by the blanket of freedom and democracy I wish the same for the people of Iraq during this transitional time as they move closer to a democratic free society"
By Spc Zachary K Mangas
Co C 1-194 AR (CAB)
Unit Public Affairs Representative
Posted: 2017-03-24 10:19 AM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Every spring Camp Ripley begins its annual controlled burn program to help reduce the risk of wildfire during training.
"Usually the burns are completed every spring before the summer annual training season begins," said Tim Notch, training area coordinator on Camp Ripley. "However, the warmer weather conditions provide a nice opportunity for preventative burns earlier this season."
As in years past Camp Ripley will conduct controlled burns on approximately 13,000 acres of the 53,000-acre military reservation. The burns are done in coordination with the staffs of the Camp Ripley Department of Public Works and the Camp Ripley Environmental Department along with support from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Posted: 2017-03-23 09:46 AM DULUTH, Minn. - Pfc. Trevor Nelson received the Minnesota Distinguished Recruiting Ribbon and a Minnesota Recruiting and Retention Battalion medallion for excellence from Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Serbus, March 18, 2017, at the Duluth Armory. Nelson earned these awards as part of the online referral system, Leads 2 Enlistment for referring four friends who have joined the Minnesota National Guard.
"I talked to some buddies in my school about the Guard. They liked the benefits, so I put their info in the app and let my recruiter take over." said Nelson. "I thought it would be fun to serve with friends and help them figure out their path in life."
Nelson is currently a senior at Cloquet Senior High School and assigned to the Recruit Sustainment Program in Duluth. He attended basic training at Fort Benning in the summer of 2016 with follow-on training in the summer of 2017 to become an infantryman.
Posted: 2017-03-10 08:50 AM LITCHFIELD, Minn. -Bruce Cottington, a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea, donated a bronze bust of Gen. John W. Vessey, Jr. to the Litchfield National Guard unit during the armory's public open house event March 4. Cottington, a Litchfield resident, commands the Minnesota Chapter of the Veterans of Underage Military Service. VUMS members enlisted in the military prior to the minimum age requirement in order to serve their country during WWII. Cottington received the bust from Vessey, a fellow VUMS member. Both enlisted in the military at the age of 16.
The highlight of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion open house was the unveiling of the sculpture. The unit was very supportive when Cottington proposed donating the sculpture. The Litchfield community has always been very supportive of the National Guard over the years, so the open house was a chance to say 'thanks' to their neighbors. "This was a great opportunity to honor Bruce and to honor Gen. Vessey," said B Co., 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion Commander, Capt. Seth Goreham. Bravo Company also has a tight relationship with the local American Legion and VFW. Many Litchfield citizens are former members of Bravo Company, or the unit's predecessors A Co, 682nd Engineer Battalion, and the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company.
Posted: 2017-03-08 03:29 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The garrison command team of Camp Ripley, family, friends and colleagues from the Minnesota National Guard attended a Change of Responsibility ceremony between Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Worden and Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Erickson, March 5, 2017, at Camp Ripley.
The ceremony was an official "passing of the sword" from one senior noncommissioned officer to the next and assumption of the duties and responsibilities that go along with the position of Garrison Command Sergeant Major.
As with many military ceremonies those in attendance welcomed Erickson as a new member of the team and bid farewell, recognized and thanked Worden for his service.