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Minnesota National Guard
Remembering Bataan (video)

Ceremony marks 70th anniversary on a bitter spring day
Posted: April 9, 2012 - 9:18pm


Steve Kohls/Brainerd DispatchBataan Death March survivor, Walt Straka, is helped to the Bataan Memorial by Sgt. 1st Class Tony Magnan at the Brainerd Training and Community Center in Brainerd Monday , the 70th anniversary of the fall of Bataan and the beginning of the 60 mile Death March Straka, who is 92 years old, lives on his own in the Brainerd area. For more photos go to spottedbrainerddispatch.com

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By Renee Richardson
Senior Reporter

Taps' haunting melody hung in air that on a spring day couldn't be described as anything other than bitter

It didn't deter people from braving a harsh gusty wind at the National Guard Armory in Brainerd Monday morning to gather for the Bataan Memorial Service for Company A, 194th Tank Battalion People gathered to remember those who didn't return and honor those who did

"We are here today to honor the sacrifice of these soldiers and their families," said guest speaker, Dan Holmes, honorary colonel with the 194th Tank Regiment "These were 'the Battling Bastards of Bataan,' They had no support -- no mama, no papa and no Uncle Sam But they kept the Japanese at bay long enough for US military to react and keep the Japanese from our shores We owe much to these men"

Holmes said in the midst of 1937 with the Great Depression, joining the National Guard provided extra income, a nice uniform and Saturday night dances in a new Brainerd armory

"Little did these National Guard soldiers know what was in their future," Holmes said

They fought on the Bataan peninsula until they were out of food and ammunition With no reinforcements coming, they were forced to surrender to the Japanese on April 9, 1942 But many did not survive the infamous Death March or the Japanese prison camps

Carol Alverson of Nisswa attended her first Bataan Memorial Ceremony Monday Alverson read about Brainerd's Bataan survivor Walt Straka and wanted to attend She took refuge along the armory's wall away from the wind, wishing she hadn't taken winter gear out of her car the day before American flawgs lined the armory parking lot with veterans, members of the National Guard and Patriot Guard in attendance, along with area residents There was a mix of ages but many in the group were older Alverson said she hopes younger generations remember the sacrifice at Bataan

"I think it's going to be forgotten and that worries me," she said "I'm glad to see the turnout there is for such a cold day"

Alverson said the Billie Brown American Legion Post in Nisswa, formed in 1946 and named for one of the 194th who didn't make it home, is now looking to help soldiers who will soon be returning from service in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait through the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon campaign

In his remarks, Holmes noted many of the families of the men at Bataan didn't know about their loved one's fate for 42 months

Don Samuelson's father survived the Death March but not the prison camp that followed They didn't get word of his death until a year after the fact Samuelson, former long-time Brainerd Legislator, said his grandfather refused to believe the news

After Monday's ceremony, Samuelson said the ceremony brought back a lot of thoughts It was a cold day when the soldiers left Brainerd, Samuelson said In June, Samuelson went out with his mom and sister in a caravan of Brainerd families who went to see the soldiers at Fort Lewis in Washington state In August, they learned the soldiers would be shipped out as the first tank unit sent to the Far East before World War II The Samuelsons were renting a place in Olympia, Wash

"I remember that day when my dad came home," Samuelson said "He came in the kitchen and said to my mother they were leaving"

Samuelson said his dad, who was older with young children, didn't have to ship out but he went with the men

"We came home not knowing what to expect next," Samuelson said

For Christmas of 1941, the Samuelson family gathered to record a message to send overseas Samuelson was 7 years old He still has a copy of the recording He doubts it ever reached his father Finally, the families and the community came to understand the depth of their losses

"Those were sad times for us and the other families," Samuelson said

Money raised by the community for a memorial went into the carillon bells that chime each hour from the Crow Wing County Historic Courthouse in Brainerd

"Brainerd has really hung in there," Samuelson said "They've had this ceremony every single year and they voted to never forget"

During the ceremony, each man's name lost with the Brainerd tank company in Bataan was read aloud and a flower placed at the memorial Bataan survivor Walt Straka was part of the 70th anniversary wreath-laying ceremony
Now men from Brainerd-based Headquarters Company, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor (HCC 1/194 CAB) are based in Kuwait and serving in Iraq They are part of what's been described as the second largest deployment of the Minnesota National Guard since World War II

At the Bataan memorial, Capt Rob Grutsch said the 1/194thCAB has been involved in more than 600 missions Lt. Col. Brian Melton, 1/194th commander, is at Walter Reed Army Medical Center's for medical issues while deployed in February

"We as citizens must never let our government leave soldiers untrained or partially trained and unsupported," Holmes said "So I would expect to see you all in attendance every year -- even after these veterans are gone"

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or reneerichardson@brainerddispatch.com Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz
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Month of the Military Child recognizes contributions of military kids

Posted: 2018-04-07  01:54 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the contributions and sacrifices military children make so their family members can serve. An estimated 15,000 children in Minnesota have been affected by the deployment of a parent.

"Military children bear a lot while their family members serve," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "It is up to us to support these resilient kids and help to lessen their burden."

An event to honor military kids in Minnesota will take place April 13, 2018, at the Mall of America rotunda from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Activities will include appearances by the Teddy Bear Band and meet and greets with Nickelodeon characters.

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Posted: 2018-03-16  08:45 AM
Col. Angela Steward-Randle ST. PAUL, Minn. - Col. Angela Steward-Randle grew up in a military family - her father served in the Army on active duty - but it was a chance encounter with a friend at college that led her to want to make the military a career.

"My story is no different than many others," Steward-Randle, the Director of Human Resources, Manpower and Personnel for the Minnesota National Guard said. "I was in college and looking for financial resources to help pay for it."

Her college friend suggested they attend a summer training with the Reserve Officer Training Corps that had no obligation and could earn them some money. The friend never ended up going, but Steward-Randle did. After earning recognition as the top honor graduate and receiving an offer of a scholarship, she was hooked.

Minnesota Guardsman Receives Award for Combating Drugs in his Community

Posted: 2018-03-09  03:13 PM
Counterdrug WOODBURY, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Benjamin Kroll, an analyst with the Minnesota National Guard's Counterdrug Task Force who is assigned to work with the Hennepin County Sherriff's Office was recognized for his achievements as the Analyst of the Year during the 2018 Minnesota Association of Crime and Intelligence Analysts Training Symposium in Woodbury, Minnesota, March 7, 2018.

Through a partnership with Minnesota law enforcement agencies throughout the state, the Minnesota National Guard Counterdrug Task Force (MNCDTF) supports the anti-drug initiatives to counter all primary drug threats and vulnerabilities through the effective application of available assets, said Maj. Jon Dotterer, Counterdrug Coordinator for the State of Minnesota. The goal for the program is to support federal, state, tribal, and local agencies in the detection, disruption, interdiction, and curtailment of illicit drugs.

Kroll is one of sixteen service members on the Counterdrug Task Force that provides this force-multiplying service to our communities against illicit drug-use. With the information that law enforcement provide through their patrols and daily operations, Kroll and his colleagues across the state assist by putting together a figurative picture with all of the gathered information which aids in identifying how to move forward with legal action to deter or prevent the sale or use of illegal narcotic drugs.

Women Opened Doors in Minnesota National Guard

Posted: 2018-03-08  09:05 AM
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The Minnesota National Guard has "come around to that way of thinking" since those early days of gender integration. In the last 44 years women have made momentous strides toward inclusion and acceptance. Their accomplishments are testimony to their fortitude and the progressive development of the Minnesota National Guard.

When an accomplished female Soldier is credited with breaking barriers she will often pass that honor to the women that preceded her. Brig. Gen. Johanna Clyborne is such a leader. She acknowledges that she is one of the first females in the Minnesota National Guard who has held key leadership roles, however she sees it differently. "I feel responsible for all women in uniform," said Clyborne. "Women before me opened the door, now I've cleared the room. It's up to the women behind me to hold the room."

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