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History
Minnesota National Guard
I'm officially an American

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - Spc Yaroslav Sergei Dmytrochenko joined the Minnesota Army National Guard as a Ukrainian citizen, proudly serving as an American Soldier While deployed to Kuwait he was able to officially earn his US citizenship and participate in a Naturalization Ceremony held at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait on March 24, 2012 He left Minnesota as a Ukrainian and will return home as an American

Dmytrochenko started his military career in 2008 just like every other Soldier, by taking an oath pledging to defend the Constitution of the United States What makes his story different and unique is that when he took that oath, he was not an American citizen, he was a Ukrainian citizen


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Dmytrochenko was born in Kherson, Ukraine in 1989 In 2003 he and his family moved to St Cloud, Minn When he arrived in St Cloud, he didn't speak any English, but he attended school and worked hard to learn English by the end of his freshman year of high school Right after graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Minnesota Army National Guard, as a tank mechanic, and was assigned to the Sauk Centre, Minn, based Charlie Company, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division "I was always thinking of joining In Ukraine [all males] have to"

Along his journey to citizenship he's had great support and interest from his fellow Soldiers, saying "A lot of people didn't know a non-citizen can serve in the military It's been a good thing that I had an opportunity to serve" In 2011 he deployed to Kuwait as a Ukrainian citizen wearing an American flag patch on his shoulder as an American Soldier, in support of Operation New Dawn, the final phase of post-combat operations in Iraq

While in Kuwait, he learned about an opportunity to submit his paperwork to finally earn his citizenship, something his mother and sister had already been able to complete The long road to becoming an American citizen was finally completed on March 24, 2012 He stood with 14 other Service members in the Camp Arifjan Chapel as Ambassador Matthew H Tueller, US ambassador to Kuwait and Maj Gen Gary Cheek, deputy commanding general-Kuwait of Third Army/US Army Central observed the Oath of Naturalization

After the oath was completed, all 15 Service members stood shoulder to shoulder and proudly recited the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time as American citizens before watching a special video greeting from President Barack Obama

"It was nice that the Army could help me with this" he said "It feels good to be an official citizen" Now that he is an American citizen, he is able to get a US passport so he can travel back to Ukraine to visit family he hasn't seen in eight years The ability to see family members again means a great deal to him and something he is anxiously looking forward to

After he got back to Camp Virginia he was greeted by a lot of his fellow Soldiers who were quick to greet him and congratulate him Dmytrochenko said he shared his pride right away on Facebook, posting the message, "I'm officially an American" and got more responses than he's ever had on Facebook He said the outpouring of support, respect and excitement for him has been amazing "It was nicer than I was expecting It was an honor; it felt good to finally be over with"

March 24, 2012
1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division
Story by Capt Michael Lovas




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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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