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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: 2017-03-24 10:19 AM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Every spring Camp Ripley begins its annual controlled burn program to help reduce the risk of wildfire during training.
"Usually the burns are completed every spring before the summer annual training season begins," said Tim Notch, training area coordinator on Camp Ripley. "However, the warmer weather conditions provide a nice opportunity for preventative burns earlier this season."
As in years past Camp Ripley will conduct controlled burns on approximately 13,000 acres of the 53,000-acre military reservation. The burns are done in coordination with the staffs of the Camp Ripley Department of Public Works and the Camp Ripley Environmental Department along with support from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Posted: 2017-03-23 09:46 AM DULUTH, Minn. - Pfc. Trevor Nelson received the Minnesota Distinguished Recruiting Ribbon and a Minnesota Recruiting and Retention Battalion medallion for excellence from Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Serbus, March 18, 2017, at the Duluth Armory. Nelson earned these awards as part of the online referral system, Leads 2 Enlistment for referring four friends who have joined the Minnesota National Guard.
"I talked to some buddies in my school about the Guard. They liked the benefits, so I put their info in the app and let my recruiter take over." said Nelson. "I thought it would be fun to serve with friends and help them figure out their path in life."
Nelson is currently a senior at Cloquet Senior High School and assigned to the Recruit Sustainment Program in Duluth. He attended basic training at Fort Benning in the summer of 2016 with follow-on training in the summer of 2017 to become an infantryman.
Posted: 2017-03-10 08:50 AM LITCHFIELD, Minn. -Bruce Cottington, a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea, donated a bronze bust of Gen. John W. Vessey, Jr. to the Litchfield National Guard unit during the armory's public open house event March 4. Cottington, a Litchfield resident, commands the Minnesota Chapter of the Veterans of Underage Military Service. VUMS members enlisted in the military prior to the minimum age requirement in order to serve their country during WWII. Cottington received the bust from Vessey, a fellow VUMS member. Both enlisted in the military at the age of 16.
The highlight of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion open house was the unveiling of the sculpture. The unit was very supportive when Cottington proposed donating the sculpture. The Litchfield community has always been very supportive of the National Guard over the years, so the open house was a chance to say 'thanks' to their neighbors. "This was a great opportunity to honor Bruce and to honor Gen. Vessey," said B Co., 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion Commander, Capt. Seth Goreham. Bravo Company also has a tight relationship with the local American Legion and VFW. Many Litchfield citizens are former members of Bravo Company, or the unit's predecessors A Co, 682nd Engineer Battalion, and the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company.
Posted: 2017-03-08 03:29 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The garrison command team of Camp Ripley, family, friends and colleagues from the Minnesota National Guard attended a Change of Responsibility ceremony between Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Worden and Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Erickson, March 5, 2017, at Camp Ripley.
The ceremony was an official "passing of the sword" from one senior noncommissioned officer to the next and assumption of the duties and responsibilities that go along with the position of Garrison Command Sergeant Major.
As with many military ceremonies those in attendance welcomed Erickson as a new member of the team and bid farewell, recognized and thanked Worden for his service.