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Minnesota National Guard
Santas work offseason to benefit injured vets

Article by: ANNA PRATT, Special to the Star Tribune Updated: July 18, 2012 - 12:01 AM

The Minnesota Real-Bearded Santa Club will host a July 25 golf tournament at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project


These days golfing is a challenge, said the retired Daniel Hanson But his alter ego, Santa Daniel, claims it just takes a sprinkling of "magic dust" to improve his game

Through the Minnesota Real-Bearded Santa Club, the 63-year-old Champlin resident is an organizer of an event called "Santas Celebrity Golf Tournament," which is scheduled for next Wednesday at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids Besides a "shotgun start" format in which players begin at the same time, the event includes dinner and a silent auction

That day a bunch of Santas will be on the green, though none of them will wear their full suits because of the heat Instead, they'll don red and green golf attire, he said

Proceeds from the event will go to the national Wounded Warrior Project, a Jacksonville, Fla-based nonprofit that has various programs to assist injured military service members

Although the Santas club has taken on a number of charitable causes through the years, this is the first time it's hosted an event like this It came about when Santa Daniel, whose two brothers served in the military, spoke up about finding a way "to support these men and women who have come home [from war] with these catastrophic injuries," he said "We need to be there for them"

The Minnesota Santas, which was founded in 1994, is one of the largest clubs of its kind in the country with 115 members, including 45 Mrs Clauses, according to club information

Santa Daniel joined the group about a decade ago, around the same time that he decided to take up the character -- something that his wife, Doris, OK'd with one caveat: "She told me, 'don't ever call me Mrs Claus,' " he said

The club is a good way to stay connected to other Santas, swap stories and support one another, said Santa Daniel

The only requirement, at least for the men, is a real beard, though that could soon change, he said Right now, the group is looking into the possibility of formalizing as a limited liability company to afford legal protections and entertainment-related insurance for the Santas

Some of the club's members, whose gigs take them everywhere from malls to hospitals to private parties, keep up the look year-round

Santa Daniel said it helps when he's driving "I have to remember I look like Santa, so I have to behave myself on the road," he said

But mainly, he loves bringing cheer to people wherever he goes "When children come up to you and you see the smiles on their faces, it's magical," he said

The feeling is hard to describe, but when "you get dressed up, you feel like Santa and everyone sees you as Santa," he said

Christmas in July

Gary Spooner, who goes by Santa Spoons, agreed The Cottage Grove resident, who also has been helping with the fundraiser's details, has been a Santa for so long -- 37 years -- that it's become a way of life

He drives a car that looks like a sleigh, and its license plate spells out SANTA G His office is decorated with Santa pictures, too

Santa Spoons already has picked out his outfit for the golf tournament, including red socks that say, "Ho Ho Ho" "I think it's going to be a great deal of fun," he said, adding, "It'll be a little Christmas in July that Santa is giving"

John Kriesel, a retiring state representative who now leads the Anoka County Veterans, also is looking forward to the game He's a golf lover, but the cause also holds special meaning for him

Kriesel, a Wounded Warrior Project alumnus, is a former Minnesota National Guard member who lost both of his legs in a roadside bombing in Iraq in 2006

Thanks to the help of those around him, "I've settled into a new normal and I'm happier than I've ever been I've learned a great deal," he said "I want to do anything to help others get to the same spot"

Anna Pratt is a Minneapolis freelance writer
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Forging a path to career success

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
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - "The battlefront is no place for women to be," said Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Kurtzweg, 125th Field Artillery, in an article published in 1976. "There are certain jobs girls say they can do, but they just can't do ... the battlefront is no place for women to be. Other countries in the world use women in combat, but the U.S. has not come around to that way of thinking." Kathy Berg, a New Ulm reporter summarized at the time. "So women in the New Ulm unit take care of personnel files and pay records and leave the fighting to the men."

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."

Securing the Bold North: Minnesota National Guard supports Super Bowl LII

Posted: 2018-02-02  10:45 PM
Super Bowl 52 MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - More than 400 Minnesota National Guardsmen are supporting security efforts in Minneapolis ahead of Super Bowl 52.

"This is what we do," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "When the local community can't meet the public safety needs, they come to the Guard. We're their normal partner, we're a natural partner, and we're their preferred partner when it comes to filling in the gaps that they can't fill."

At the request of the city, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton authorized the Minnesota National Guard to provide support to security efforts leading up to and during Super Bowl 52. The Guardsmen are providing direct support to and working alongside law enforcement officers from across the state. Like their civilian law enforcement partners, Minnesota Guardsmen are focused on ensuring a safe experience for the residents and visitors who are attending the Super Bowl festivities.

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