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Minnesota National Guard
Hockey Day Minnesota from Kuwait

CAMP BEUHRING, Kuwait - Despite being deployed, Minnesota "State of Hockey" citizen-soldiers keep their hockey spirit alive with a tournament to commemorate Hockey Day Minnesota

The tournament of four teams from the Minnesota National Guard's 1st Brigade Combat Team "Red Bulls"? was held at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Jan 21

When soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division woke up to play hockey, they were welcomed with a high of 52 degrees and low of 35 degrees, unusually cold for the 100+ weather the soldiers acclimated to this past summer

Most of the equipment for the hockey tournament was donated by Defending the Blue Line It is a non-profit organization that helps military families with hockey equipment and camps for their children Defending the Blue Line sent the "Red Bulls"? gear to continue their games overseas



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"It's a great organization that keeps hockey alive, especially here deployed,"?said Maj Eric Di Natale, the executive officer for 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division

During the games, comradery was shared between all teams as they reminisced and shared stories about their former hockey days

"If you grow up in Minnesota and you're part of the hockey tradition it's always a special day; you see the high school teams play, the Minnesota WILD, the Gophers-it's a great experience,"?said Pfc Garrick Delaney, an operations specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division

For many of the participants, playing and watching in the tournament it was just like being back home on the ice

"Being here you really get homesick and miss hockey, but this is actually the first time I've seen a hockey stick since I've been at Camp Buehring-it's the best day I've had since I've been here,"?said 1st Lt Joshua Talarico, a Proctor, Minn, native and platoon leader for 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division

Prior to deploying, Command Sgt Maj Bruce Stowe, command sergeant major of the 1/34th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, received permission from the Minnesota WILD to use the name "Task Force WILD" for the unit

The final championship game was played between 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery from New Ulm, Minn, and the 1/34th BSTB from Bloomington, Minn, or Task Force WILD

Soldiers from both teams battled it out unit the very end, but ultimately it was soldiers of "Task Force WILD" that took home the victory with a 4-1 win

The soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division are expected to redeploy back to Minnesota in late spring of this year


Jan 21, 2012
Story and photos by Cpl Trisha Betz
1/34th BCT Public Affairs




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Mission Complete: Bearcats Finish NATO Exercise in Lithuania's Suwalki Gap

Posted: 2017-06-23  02:56 PM
Air Assault Saber Strike PABRADE, Lithuania - At the sound of 17 U.S. Army rotary wing aircraft humming through the air, Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, in addition to Service members of five NATO Allied countries, load onto Black Hawk, Chinook and Apache helicopters, at Kazlu Ruda airstrip during the Saber Strike exercise, June 17, 2017. The multinational effort came together to conduct an air and ground assault in the Suwalki Gap to demonstrate the nations' capability to respond to any hostile act of a potential adversary.

"You could tell on everyone's faces that this was go time," said Sgt. Derrick Bruestle, a team leader for 2-136th CAB, also known as the Bearcats. "It wasn't just a training exercise to them anymore, it was a serious mission with real implications on the real world."

The magnitude of the exercise set in as the first bird lifted off the airstrip and started moving toward the objective in a staggered formation. Saber Strike is a U.S. Army Europe-led NATO exercise meant to exhibit a strengthened partnership of the military assets of the NATO Alliance.



Beyond NATO Commitments, MN State Partnership with Croatia Continues to Grow

Posted: 2017-06-22  10:25 AM
Saber Strike SPP PABRADE, Lithuania - Since 1996, the Minnesota National Guard and the Croatian Armed Forces have been partners in the National Guard's State Partnership Program. Beyond the bond of the NATO commitment, a mutual trust and unique bond has been forged amongst the warriors of each respective nation. From Camp Ripley to Karlovac, the soldiers have found a common cause of continuous improvement. Exercise after exercise, there has been a greater appreciation of one another's culture and customs.

You don't have to look to far to see this dynamic. When asked if he had ever worked with Minnesota National Guardsmen before, 1Lt Emanuel Hamer of the Croatian Armed Forces said, "This is my fourth time working with 2-136 "Bearcats," each time we grow closer and stronger. I feel like they are members of my unit. I'm glad I have this opportunity to learn new techniques and share some of our own with the Americans."



7 Nations, 4 Branches, 1 Mission; Saber Strike '17

Posted: 2017-06-20  02:14 PM
Saber Strike 17 PABRADE, Lithuania - As the sun begins to set on the Lithuanian countryside, the final touches are put on the camouflage netting designed to break the silhouette and conceal the position of the Tactical Action Center, or TAC, of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division on June 17, 2017. As part of the multinational exercise of Saber Strike '17, the 1/34th ABCT is providing support to the Air Assault Task Force Commander, Col. Charles Kemper.

As the first ever combined air and ground assault in the annual Saber Strike exercise, this year's exercise has set a milestone in testing the compatibility of seven nations and all military branches.

"We want to reassure all of our NATO Allies that we are in this together," said Kemper. "We're part of the team and we can demonstrate capability."



Minnesota Aviators complete successful eXportable Combat Training Capability exercise

Posted: 2017-06-20  08:30 AM
XCTC FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard's 2-147th Assault Helicopter Battalion wrapped up support for an eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) exercise at Fort Hood, Texas, recently. The unit was part of Task Force Ragnar, the exercise's aviation element, supporting the Tennessee National Guard's 278th Armored Calvary Regiment as they prepare for a rotation to the National Training Center in 2018.

"Our mission is to support a brigade element here," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Otremba, with the 2-147. "But I think our ultimate mission is to train for an austere environment which sets us up for success at NTC next year."

The task force conducted aviation support missions including air assault, sling load, deliberate attack, defensive positioning and key leader escorts. They also conducted aviation-specific training in personnel recovery, downed aircraft recovery, field maintenance and air traffic control operations.



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