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Minnesota National Guard
Artillery Soldiers train with live ammo in Kuwait

NORTHERN KUWAIT, Kuwait - With the drawdown of US forces in Iraq complete, Soldiers from throughout the Army are getting the opportunity to participate in training that is difficult to conduct back in the states

In northern Kuwait, the Minnesota National Guard's 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division took advantage of this unique situation

Soldiers participated in crew qualification on the M109A6 Paladin, a self-propelled, tracked artillery vehicle with a 155-millimeter cannon that is capable of launching artillery shells upwards of ten miles through the guidance of an on board computer system

The unit trains at Camp Ripley, Minn, during their weekend drills, but the resources to conduct training of this magnitude are scarce



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Since they arrived in Kuwait, the 1-125 FA has been providing security at Camp Patriot, Kuwait, where training on field artillery weapons like the Paladin is impossible

Fortunately the 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division's 1-82 Field Artillery out of Fort Hood, Texas, acquired Paladins in Kuwait after being reassigned to 3rd Army after the drawdown of US forces and equipment in Iraq

Third Army, a higher headquarters unit for the 1-125 FA, tasked the 1-82 FA with training field artillery units like the 1-125 FA in crew qualification

"To get a chance, in a combat theater like this, to shoot artillery is a once in a lifetime experience for all these guys and we're really excited to be out here," said 1-125 FA Capt Casey Vulcan, a native of New Brighton, Minn

The crew consists of a four-man team The chief oversees the crew, a driver, a number one man, who loads the shell, and gunner to load the composition B powder that propels the shell and verifies all the information in the computer is correct, ensuring the round lands where it is supposed to before pulling the lanyard that fires the primer and launches the round

"Absolutely, it's the best job in the gun," remarked gunner Spc Alex Scarset, a native of Minneapolis, Minn

The crew receives coordinates for the computer from forward observers who are located miles away, tracking the impact and placement of the Paladin rounds

The importance and uniqueness of this training is not lost on crew chief Sgt Micha Pohlman from Rushmore, Minn

"For most of us, it's been two and a half years or more since we've actually fired, so it's a nice refresher-it's kind of exciting to get in the gun again and do the whole process"

These Soldiers will bring this valuable training experience back to Minnesota when the 1-125 FA returns home later this spring

16 Feb, 2012
Story and photos by Spc Bob Brown
1/34th BCT Public Affairs




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Camp Ripley strikes first before wildfire season

Posted: 2017-03-24  10:19 AM
Controlled burn 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.



Minnesota Guardsman earns recognition through Leads 2 Enlistment program

Posted: 2017-03-23  09:46 AM
Pfc Trevor Nelson 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.



Litchfield and Local Veteran Honor Gen. John Vessey at Armory Open House

Posted: 2017-03-10  08:50 AM
Vessey Bust 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.



Camp Ripley welcomes new command sergeant major

Posted: 2017-03-08  03:29 PM
CSM Erickson 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.



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