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CAMP VIRGINIA, Kuwait - It has been a long 8 ½ years for American forces, the United States and the country of Iraq with all sides seeing bloodshed Nearly 4,500 troops lost their lives fighting and more than 100,000 Iraqis have died during the war.
While historians and politicians may argue down the line whether or not the US should have invaded, one thing will remain certain " a dictator of tyranny has been removed, the chance for a democratic society has been placed in the hands of the people of Iraq and the war on terror has been battled out mainly abroad and off American soil.
These accomplishments did not come without sacrifice.
Over one million Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors helped make a new Iraq possible Without the sacrifices made by these heroic individuals, their families and the proud communities they belong to, none of this forward progress could have been accomplished This accomplishment was observed on the faces of each soldier at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, during the month of December.
With President Obama's announcement - the arrival of the last departure of convoys from Iraq echoed the war was finally over.
It was a historical moment for the Minnesota soldiers; they were some of the last to enter Iraq and some of the last to leave.
"It was a good trip, a little foggy on our way back, but we pushed on through regardless of weather conditions and made it back safe and sound," said Sgt Jeffery J McArthur, vehicle commander from Baxter, Minn "Camp Adder was like a ghost town being the last base to close so it was a little interesting at times, but we're back and it feels good to have accomplished our mission."
The convoy escort team mission was the same as it has been before - to safely escort a herd of semi-trucks in and out of Iraq However, this time their mission was providing security on some of the last cargo loads of equipment and supplies during Operation New Dawn Since a finalized decision was made to complete the withdrawal of US forces, Crazyhorse has been busy " completing 207 missions since their arrival in theater The mission up to Camp Adder was the very last mission in Iraq for the Company.
"It was pretty barren up there," said 1st Lt Mitchell A Goenner, 2nd Platoon Leader and Convoy Commander from Vadnais Heights, Minn "It feels pretty good to be part of history It was a mission, not filled with all the guns and glory, but something I can tell my grandkids down the line My team all did a great job and I'm proud of them."
The following day on December 18, the final convoys made their way over the Kuwait border arriving at Camp Virginia Media from around the world gathered to report on the historical day, a day that signified the end to the Iraq war and a successful end of mission for Crazyhorse during Operation New Dawn The Company traveled a combined total of 283,982 miles while escorting more than 9,000 semi-trucks and 21-million gallons of fuel.
The Company made up of 136 soldiers will now remain at Camp Virginia for the remainder of their year-long deployment, honing in on their military occupational specialties.
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.
"It was a lot of work and lessons learned, but it was awesome seeing the completed product," said Sgt. 1st Class Brian Reiten, readiness non-commissioned officer for C Co., 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry.