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Minnesota National Guard
Driving a draw down

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

Spc Garrett Nelson, a combat engineer for Charlie Company, 1/34th Brigade Special Troops Battalion attached to the 1st Squadron, 94th Cavalry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, put in the role of a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle driver for the duration of 1st BCT's deployment, is very vigilant when performing his duties in the drawn down

"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



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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"

By Cpl Trisha Betz
1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
20 Nov, 2011






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National Guard Soldiers advance to all-Army Best Warrior Competition

Posted: 2017-07-22  11:02 AM
ARNG BWC CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Fourteen of the Army National Guard's most elite Soldiers gathered on Camp Ripley Training Center in central Minnesota July 17-20 to determine who would compete in the all-Army Best Warrior Competition later this year.

Although every Soldier gave it their all, only one noncommissioned officer and one enlisted Soldier would claim the title of Army National Guard Best Warrior. The room was tense as everyone awaited the results during the final awards ceremony.

"We told you we were going to do everything but break you," said Command Sgt. Maj. Doug Wortham, the Minnesota National Guard Senior Enlisted Advisor. He summarized the four days explaining how the competitors all came from their respective states as individual competitors and through the competition ended up as comrades. "You were stressed, you were challenged. You guys did a fantastic job... But, the devil's in the details."



Fourteen Soldiers. Twelve States. One Competition.

Posted: 2017-07-16  09:45 PM
ARNG BWC One Soldier (junior enlisted) and one NCO (non-commissioned officer) will emerge at the top at the Army National Guard's Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Ripley, Minn., July 17-20, 2017, and move on to represent the Guard in the All-Army Best Warrior Competition in October.

The competitors have been conducting last-minute training since July 12 at Camp Ripley by honing their skills on various weapons, maintaining their physical strength and endurance, and reviewing military tasks.

"I'm feeling very confident," said Cpl. Joseph Garback, a cannon crewmember with B Co., 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry, 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, New Jersey National Guard. He's been preparing with the other Region 1 competition winner, Sgt. Zachary Scuncio. Garback says he has really liked the hands-on preparation at Camp Ripley and believes he's had an ample amount of time to prepare.



Minnesota-based Combat Aviation Unit Soars into Battle Phase of Bilateral Training Exercise

Posted: 2017-07-16  09:52 AM
34th CAB CAMP ATTERBURY, Indiana - More than 140 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Combat Aviation Brigade have established a presence at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, where they are supporting and engaging in high-level military operations and synchronization training.

Members of the St. Paul, Minnesota-based aviation unit, which is adept at providing a wide spectrum of aviation support, recently dove into the battle phase of the bilateral training exercise Talisman Saber 17. Throughout the exercise, much of their training will focus on air-ground integration -- or synchronizing aviation operations into the scheme of maneuver planned and conducted by forces on the ground.



Camp Ripley to host National Guard Best Warrior Competition

Posted: 2017-07-10  10:50 AM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 10, 2017

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- Fourteen soldiers from 12 states, representing seven Army National Guard regions will compete July 17-20 at Camp Ripley in the Army National Guard's
Best Warrior Competition.

"This competition will test the soldiers' ability to perform tasks that are vital to our ability to fight and win our nation's wars," said Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas Wortham, senior enlisted advisor for the Minnesota National Guard. "We will push them to their limits to test their endurance, strength and resilience - qualities that our soldiers must possess to be successful."

The four-day competition will feature several events to test the soldiers both physically and mentally. The soldiers will demonstrate their proficiency with weapons, their physical strength and endurance, their ability to perform military tasks and their ability to put their knowledge to use under pressure.



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