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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
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
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.