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Minnesota National Guard
Ceremony Sunday to celebrate Veterans Day

Military service runs in Jarvas Polk's family

The first lieutenant in the Minnesota National Guard enlisted in 2005, in part because of the number of his family members who have been in the armed services over the years including grandparents, aunts and uncles

"Serving affects people you might not even realize," said Polk, the featured speaker Sunday at the the Winona Veterans Day Ceremony "They made me want to contribute more than I was to the world I wanted to be part of a bigger picture"

Polk returned in May from his first deployment to Afghanistan, where he helped train Afghan police and soldiers "It was a really gratifying experience," he said "It made you feel like you were really contributing"

Sunday's ceremony includes a 24-hour vigil starting at midnight, the 11 am ceremony, displays and a showing of the movie "Memorial Day" at the Winona Area Veterans Center

Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day, named after the 1918 cease-fire that signaled the end of World War I The armistice was signed at 11 am Nov 11, which is where the phrase "the eleventh hour" came from

A year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov 11 as Armistice Day The holiday's name and date would change over the years until 1975, when President Gerald Ford signed into law the current rules on the holiday's observation

For many, this year's Veterans Day ceremony is a special one This will be the first Veterans Day since the winding down of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Polk said, including the return of the Red Bulls Minnesota Guard unit from Kuwait

"It's really a time for us to thank fellow members of the military for their service and remember those no longer with us," he said "We also need to take a second to realize we have people still deployed"

Winona Daily News

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Woman's Veterans Initiative Shows Major Muscle with Habitat for Humanity Build

Posted: 2015-11-25  09:37 AM
WVI H4H ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Women Veterans Initiative (WVI), a group orientated toward networking Minnesota women military members and veterans brought 16 service(wo)men from all services, ages and backgrounds together, November 12, to assist in a Habitat for Humanity build. Eleven of the 16 women are current or former Minnesota National Guardsmen.

"We started celebrating Veterans Day this way in 2008 with Habitat for Humanity and enjoy coming back each year to build," said Trista Matascastillo, program officer for Veterans Voices and chairman for the WVI. "We learn new skills, build our own confidence and make new friends. There are 27,000-plus women vets in Minnesota and so often we hear that women veterans feel isolated and alone and having events like this is just another way to bring us out and together."

The group started in the morning with a brief on the tasks for the day and quickly got to work, going above and beyond by organizing the work-site and making sure there was a high attention to detail.

Empowering Girls and Influencing the Next Generation

Posted: 2015-11-17  10:51 AM
Girls Rising ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Air National Guard and the Soroptimist International of the Twin Cities partnered together to present the documentary film 'Girl Rising' at the 133rd Airlift Wing on Saturday, Nov 7 2015.

The event featured a C-130 tour for any of the attendees, which included girls as young as nine. Following the tour, the documentary film 'Girl Rising' was featured and ended with a panel discussion. Topics included overcoming obstacles, mentors and people who have inspired them along the way.

"I think events like this are essential in opening our doors to the community and raising awareness about important issues not only local, but around the world - often these are places many of our wing members have deployed to," said Master Sgt. Theresa Mensinger, Diversity and Inclusion Senior Non-commissioned officer.

Duluth's 148th Fighter Wing has new leader

Posted: 2015-11-16  07:47 AM
148FW CoC Clint Austin DULUTH, Minn. - With the handing-off of the 148th Fighter Wing's flag on Saturday, Col. Jon Safstrom has become the new wing commander.

The Duluth native assumed the leadership role from Col. Frank Stokes, who is leaving Duluth after leading the 148th for more than six years to become chief of current operations at the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va.

During Saturday's Change of Command Ceremony at the Minnesota Air National Guard base in Duluth, Stokes passed the flag of the 148th "Bulldogs" to Brig. Gen. David Hamlar, who then passed the flag to Safstrom, symbolizing the accepting of the command.

133AW and Best Buy Corporate join together to support Operation Gratitude

Posted: 2015-11-12  12:51 PM
Operation Gratitude BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - Airmen from the 133rd Airlift Wing and employees from Best Buy Corporate joined forces to support Operation Gratitude at the Best Buy corporate headquarters in Bloomington, Minn., Friday, Nov. 6, 2015.

Operation Gratitude is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer-based corporation, funded entirely by private donations. Every year, Operation Gratitude sends more than 150,000 individually-addressed care packages to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed overseas.

On Friday, more than 30 members from the 133rd Airlift Wing worked side-by-side with employees of Best Buy Corporate to pack bags filled with snacks, small electronics and other items to be shipped to deployed military members overseas. The efforts paid off and the group packed nearly 1,800 bags in under an hour.

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