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"An IED went off on the right side of us," recalls Tomczak "I dropped down in to the vehicle to make sure everyone was ok"
After Tomczak verified that his crew was ok he jumped back up into the turret to engage the individuals who set off the IED
"I was trying to find them through my thermal scope, but it wasn't working," said Tomczak
Half of the scope was blown off during the IED explosion
At that moment Tomczak noticed a sharp pain in his elbow and dropped back down into the vehicle After further inspection by his Truck Commander (TC), Sgt Cade Gornick, Tomczak had come to the realization that he had taken shrapnel in his arm from the blast
Pvt Jason Gates, sitting in the back of the MRAP, rendered aid to Tomczak's arm, which temporarily stopped the bleeding until a medic was able to tend to his wounds
"Gates patched up Tomczak and then jumped on the gun, so we could continue on the mission," said Gornick
Searching for Improvised Explosive Devices IEDs is not out of the normal for Tomczak as this is the second Purple Heart he has received
The first Purple Heart was awarded to him on the brigade's 22-month deployment to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in February 2007 after an IED exploded next to the Humvee while on a short haul convoy from Logistical Support Area Anaconda, Iraq to Forward Operating Base Spiker, Iraq
"The first IED I went through was by far the worse because it was the first," said Tomczak "After going through an event like that it changes you; I know there are Soldiers who have never gone through the experiences I have and I am thankful for that"
When asked about what he was most thankful for after his second IED Tomczak simply replied, "I'm glad it happened to me and not somebody else"
Although Tomczak is thankful most Soldiers have not experienced what he has, Gornick was working side by side with Tomczak in the same truck when both IEDs went off Gornick was the driver of the Humvee during the last deployment and is now the TC of Tomczak's MRAP during this deployment
"We are the luckiest unlucky people you will ever meet," Gornick exclaimed "I knew the day they paired us up on this deployment we were going to get blown up again"
Despite everything they've been through, Gornick was still able to say with a smile on his face, "I am very proud of Tomczak"
After taking a few moments to reflect on his ceremony Tomczak said, "if you look back at the people who have two Purple Hearts you can't help, but have the utmost respect for them and to find myself now in that category it's a real honor"
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.