| Local Troops Return Home (video)
Austin, MN - Emotions are running high as families gather to welcome home dozens of local soldiers
After being deployed in Iraq and Kuwait since last August, Southern Minnesota National Guard soldiers returned to Austin Tuesday afternoon
It's a moment Hunter and Pheniox Schloegel have been looking forward to for nearly a year: The day they'll be reunited with their dad, Sgt Jason Schloegel, who has been overseas for his second deployment
"They miss dad really a lot and can't wait for him to get home," said Sgt Schloegel's mom, Diane
And that moment is finally here
"It's nice to be home again I'm excited to see my little boys and finally be a part of their lives again," said Sgt Schloegel
Through tears and kisses, dozens of families welcomed their loved ones back with open arms While most are reuniting after a year apart, some are meeting for the very first time
"Amazing She's so precious," said 1st Lt Dustin McCormick
1st Lt McCormick has never seen his newborn baby girl in person before Tuesday She was born just two weeks ago
"I got to watch her on Skype online, but that was nothing compared to meeting her in person for the first time," said Lt McCormick
As the commotion started to die down, the Schloegels got ready to head home for a little family time
"I'm not sure what we're going to do Just get dad and go home and relax and visit Spend time, let the boys spend time with dad," said Diane
That sounded good to Sgt Schloegel, who is looking forward to a little rest
"Spend time with the boys, watch movies, relax," he said
The troops spent about a week in Mississippi for demobilization activities before they returned home
The welcome home ceremony was organized by Austin's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon group They say celebrations like this one are essential as the troops return home
But it's not just a few people behind it This event was a community wide effort
Students from Southland Schools and Southgate Elementary made posters and banners Local color guard units were also on hand
One area veteran said it's important that the soldiers know they're appreciated
"It's just such a great feeling to have people that love and want you to come home, and greet you and tell you you've done a good job, because they have done an excellent job," said Norm Hecimovich
Many of the soldiers that returned on Tuesday were part of Operation New Dawn, which helped withdraw US military forces from Iraq
Reported by: Raquel Hellman
Published: 5/01 9:30 pm
Camp Ripley strikes first before wildfire season
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.
Minnesota Guardsman earns recognition through Leads 2 Enlistment program
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.
Litchfield and Local Veteran Honor Gen. John Vessey at Armory Open House
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.
Camp Ripley welcomes new command sergeant major
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.