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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: 2017-03-24 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.