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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota Soldier earns 2nd Purple Heart

Spc Skeeter R Tomczak joined an honored class of Soldiers by receiving his second Purple Heart Dec 31 from the 1st Squadron, 94th Cavalry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division Commander Lt Col Eddie Frizell while stationed at Camp Buehring, Kuwait  

"The Colonel told me he never expected to be handing out this award-he expressed how proud he was," said Tomczak

Tomczak, a M2 gunner in the lead Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) truck, was honored for his wounds he received from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonation during a route clearance mission from Victory Base Complex, Iraq to Al Asad, Iraq Oct 5



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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"

31 Dec, 2011
Spc Mathew Schlueter
1-94 Cavalry, 1/34 BCT




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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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