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Camp Buehring, Kuwait-- The responsible withdraw of US forces and equipment from Iraq is more than a catchy phase Meeting the goals for the deadline and getting the troops home in a safe responsible way is uppermost in the minds of the troops
"Having to know the lives of all the guys in my truck are in my hands; I am really cautious and careful while driving," said Nelson, a Richfield, Minn native
MRAP vehicles are made with armor to deflect away any explosive ordinances projected toward the vehicle The same armor that makes these vehicles safe in ambushes or roadside bombing also makes them up to two thousand pounds heavier
As a driver trainer, Nelson knows that the added weight can change the dynamics of handling when braking with air bakes, which he describes to all his trainees
"I make sure I explain the breaks well because a lot of people have never driven with air brakes," said Nelson "They're really touchy especially around turns; you have to slow down to be careful"
Although safety precautions need to be met at every corner while operating an MRAP, Nelson feels more experienced with every mile
"Training my fellow Soldiers behind the wheel gave me a lot more miles while training," said Nelson "It definitely helps you know your job in-depth having to train other people"
As Spc Nelson vigilantly carries out his mission in Operation New Dawn, other Soldiers benefit from his expertise
"Watching him drive mission after mission, I think I've gotten the hang of it--I've gotten a lot better driving the MRAP," said Spc Anthony Hendren, a combat engineer assigned as an MRAP gunner
Nelson has been in the Minnesota National Guard for almost five and a half years and said the military has always been something he was fascinated by
"I've been interested in the military ever since I was younger--when I saw Soldiers I knew that was what I was going to be in the future" said Nelson "I've always looked up to Soldiers"
He enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard the summer after his junior year at Southwest High School in Minneapolis, Minn
"Once I got close to graduating from high school, I knew I needed some extra help for college and for the future--that was a definite plus to joining," said Nelson
Nelson enlisted before meeting his wife However, she is just as supportive as any military wife Nelson and his wife were married in April of this year Although both of them knew the deployment was coming, it hasn't made it any easier on the two of them
"It kind of got tough when she found out she was pregnant, knowing that I would be gone during our son's first nine months of his life and even be gone while she was in her late stages of pregnancy--that was pretty rough on her," said Nelson
Their son was born on July 21st, just a few days before Charlie Company departed Fort McCoy to leave for Kuwait
"It was tough being in the United States and never being able to see him," said Nelson
He was given the opportunity to go home on leave Oct 17, where he was able to see his son turn 3 months old
"Those couple of months not being able to see him were kind of hard, but taking leave to go see him really helped," said Nelson
Nelson commented that his family is what drives him do his job well
"I think about my family a lot while I'm driving--that's one thing that helps keep me alert and focused," said Nelson "Knowing that, that's what I want to go back home to--so you have to stay awake, be vigilant and be aware"
As hard as it is to be away from his family, his peers respect him
"The biggest lesson I've learned from Nelson is to be more responsible--obviously he's already an adult and responsible, but he is becoming a leader and he takes ownership for his actions," said Hendren
With the current deployment almost halfway over for the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Spc Nelson is pleased to call himself a "Red Bull"
"I'm proud to be a Minnesota National Guardsman, just with the huge role we've played over here in Iraq, especially with the numerous amounts of Soldiers Minnesota has deployed to Iraq," said Nelson "Our company alone, on the brigades last deployment over here, set so many records "It's a real honor to be a part of the draw down"
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."
Posted: 2017-04-19 02:15 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - It was a challenging and rewarding two weeks for members attending the Army National Guard Funeral Honors Instructor Course, April 1-14, at Camp Ripley.
Soldiers of National Guard units from all over the United States took part in the course designed to educate team leaders in a variety of funeral honor detail tasks, traditions and responsibilities.
"It's a stressful course, but for our job, we have to be prepared to do our job under stress; and we all really benefitted from that," said Class Honor Grad, Sgt. Ryan Valline of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry.
Posted: 2017-04-18 01:42 PM ROSEMOUNT, Minn. - The Soldiers of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division had a unique opportunity to speak with one of the U.S. Army's five Muslim chaplains April 7-10, 2017. U.S. Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Khallid Shabazz, I Corps deputy command chaplain, travelled from Fort Lewis, Washington, to Minnesota to provide professional development for the division chaplain section.
"Soldiers perform at a higher level when they are spiritually fit," said Minnesota National Guard Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Buddy Winn, the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division command chaplain. "And, it's our job as chaplains to make sure Soldiers have their spiritual needs met, regardless of faith. Having Chaplain Shabazz here as a Muslim Chaplain provides the diversity in religious background that we can't provide internally."
There are five major religions supported by the chaplaincy: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist, but over 200 religions are recognized. Chaplains can only perform services for their particular religion, but they can provide support for all Soldiers, regardless of their faith.
Posted: 2017-04-14 04:25 PM ST. PAUL, Minn. - For the third consecutive year, Minnesota service members were honored with on-court recognition and other VIP treatments as part of the Minnesota Timberwolves Heroes of the Pack Program.
"We are very appreciative for what the military does for us, and we wanted to give something back to honor the military," said Roger McCabe, who along with wife, Nancy, is a driving force behind the recognitions through the FastBreak Foundation and Roger & Nancy McCabe Foundation. "This is our way of doing it."
Having lived through the Vietnam War - and with Roger and Nancy both having parents who served - the two philanthropists decided a few years back to build upon existing recognition efforts already underway by the Timberwolves. And with that, recognitions that were typically happening at Target Center in November expanded to include Minnesota Service members from all branches at every home game - a total of 41 honorees per season.