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Red Bulls: Bringing the Minnesota Polar Bear Plunge to Kuwait
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - This year is the 15th anniversary of the Minnesota Polar Bear Plunge The plunge is held by the Minnesota Law Enforcement to benefit Special Olympics The interested participants must raise a minimum of $75 and take a "˜plunge' into one of designated spots on one of Minnesota's frozen lakes In the last seven years, the plunge has increased from five to 16 plunge sites all over the state, to include Camp Arifjan in Kuwait
The event had many similar features a "˜Polar Bear Plunger' would experience in Minnesota Like a Polar Bear Plunge Dash "˜n' Splash, the service members were required to run a 5k prior to their plunge into an icy pool
"One of the coldest days we have had in Kuwait, and here are tons of Minnesota "Red Bulls" lined up to run a 5k and then jump into a tank of ice water," said Sgt 1st Class Erin Reski and native of White Bear Lake, Minn, "It's nice to be able to continue traditions when we are so far from home"
A surprise too many of the Minnesotans, stereotyped to be acclimated to the record-cold winters of the north, found themselves bracing almost freezing 35 degree Fahrenheit winds the morning of the event "¦ something many thought they would never find during their stay in Kuwait
"If we were to do it over again, I would try to add a warming tent a little closer to the plunge site," said 1st Lt Doliber, native of Elk River, Minn, "It was cold enough to see your breath, but as far as I'm concerned it was a success, we raised awareness for a great cause and had fun as a group in an unusual way"
After the plungers dried off the ice-cold water, all the participants received a Polar Bear Plunge long sleeve shirt to remember their chilly Saturday morning in Kuwait The common experience of cannon-balling into a pool of water was a bit of a bonding experience for all in attendance
"The event was fantastic; I think it was a tremendous morale builder for the brigade," said Maj Michael Pazdernik and native of Alexandria, Minn "Since we are from Minnesota and not home this winter, there was an extra connection for all of us in "˜braving' the cold"
Instead of a freezing ice covered lake, the unit used a blivet, or a rubberized bladder used to transport water, and filled it with around 3,000 gallons of water To simulate the take-your-breath away temperatures, approximately 500 bags or approximately 3000 lbs of ice were brought to fill the pool All of this to simulate the water temperatures participants would feel during the plunges back in Minnesota
"I have participated in three previous Polar Bear Plunge's at the Maple Grove, Minn, location in 2008, 2009 and 2011," said 1st Lt Doliber "The cold water, cold air temperature, and plunging with close friends made the event feel like I was doing it at home"
Not all of the participants are veterans at the jump into an icy abyss, but enjoyed the new experience
"I have not previously participated in a Polar Plunge, but I chose to participate in this event because I thought it would be fun, funny and because of the connection between the event here and events back in Minnesota," said Maj Pazdernik, 1/34th BCT Training Officer
After the desert sun rose into the morning and the Polar Bear Plunge closed after its last jumper, the months of coordination and work paid off for all of those involved
"After seeing and hearing those that joined us today, I would do it again even if it were 10 times more difficult to set it up," said Master Sgt Newcomer and native of Anoka, Minn, "The people really enjoyed this and I am proud that we were able to raise awareness for the Special Olympics as well as a little bit in donations while managing to create a memory that will last a lifetime"
"There were a lot of smiling faces, laughter, and joking around as far as I'm concerned it was a success, we raised awareness for a great cause and had fun as a group in an unusual way," said 1st Lt Doliber
Posted: 2017-04-28 12:38 PM MANKATO, Minn. - Commissioned leaders of the Minnesota National Guard convened for the 112th General Conference of the National Guard Association of Minnesota at the Verizon Wireless Center and Hilton Garden Inn, Mankato, on April 22, 2017.
The annual gathering of association members - who serve as advocates for the needs of Soldiers, Airmen and their families - includes a business meeting, commanders march, formal dining event and transfer of responsibility to the chapter's new president.
The day's event began with a business meeting, which focused on the association's mission of educating and informing legislators on the issues facing the current and future role of the National Guard in serving Minnesota communities. The strategic planning meeting was attended by Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, his staff and unit commanders.
Posted: 2017-04-26 02:09 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Department of Defense announced that Camp Ripley was selected as the winner of the Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for Natural Resources Conservation, Large Installation.
The awards recognize individuals, teams and installations for their exceptional environmental achievements and innovative, cost-effective environmental practices.
"The winners' efforts strengthen the Department of Defense's position as a resourceful environmental steward, both at home and abroad, and demonstrate our continued commitment to fulfilling mission needs through advanced environmental practices and technologies," stated James A. MacStravic, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
Posted: 2017-04-26 10:57 AM COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Nicquie Neely has been working with victims of sexual assault for four years in the Minnesota National Guard and also volunteers as a victim advocate in the community. As a victim advocate, it's her job to believe and support victims through a difficult process that can often involve extensive medical care and legal proceedings.
"Ever since I joined the Guard and heard about the SHARP program and learned what a victim advocate was, I always wanted to be one," said Neely. "And then I learned that you had to be an E-6 to be in that position, so the minute I got promoted I asked my commander if I could go to the training."
Neely is a combat medic and the full-time training and administration NCO with Company C, 134th Brigade Support Battalion. In addition to military victim advocate training, Neely also attends regular training with the civilian organization she volunteers for - SOS Sexual Violence Services in Ramsey County.
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."