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Minnesota National Guard
Inaugural Dream Comes True

Minnesota National Guard Inaugural Dream Comes True
Becker Couple Attends, Thanks To Generous Donors


A daycare mom and an IT Tech from Becker returned from the president's inauguration Wednesday following an eventful week that almost never happened


Staff Sgt Dan Westby and his wife had been invited to the President's Inaugural Ball and received two tickets to the event through Dan's National Guard rank Tight finances and a shoe-string budget put the once-in-a-lifetime trip in peril


A few weeks ago, Westby, an IT Tech with the Robbinsdale School District, learned he could put his name in a lottery for a chance to garner a couple of tickets to attend President Barack Obama's second term inauguration this past weekend One hundred and eighty tickets became available for soldiers nationwide - 130 for Westby's rank


Westby is one of only two Minnesota soldiers invited to Washington DC for the event Monday


Last Thursday, Dan and his wife, Kari received word they were indeed the beneficiaries of two tickets, so they immediately got busy making plans for the trip as quickly as they could, assuming all expenses were included in the deal


Kari went out and bought a new gown, Dan reserved a hotel room in one of the few open hotels available for $200-$500 a night A day or two before the flight, the Westbys were on the verge of cancelling their dream trip because the funding fell through


That's where the Westby's commend the TV Station WCCO for fulfilling their hopes


WCCO Reporter Rachel Slavik did a pre-story of the couple last week and in her story she told her viewers the family was considering abandoning the trip


"We just don't know how we're going to get there," Kari said in the interview "If we can't go, it's going to break both our hearts"


At that point, the couple began searching for plane tickets -- the cheapest being $600 each


The Westbys got word immediately after the story ran on TV that donations were coming in to aid them in their trip


"As soon as people saw that a soldier was involved, people started giving," said Kari "The station at one point had to stop taking donations because of the generosity of all these people"


Sun Country's CEO contacted the Westbys and told them not to worry about the flight, that he would provide first-class tickets for them to and from Washington DC Other donors covered their hotel, spending money, souvenirs for the kids and transportation


And Kari's beautiful new gown was covered as well


"A woman from New Prague drove all the way to our house here in Becker to give us a check to pay for our expenses," said Kari "I was just weeping as I asked her why she would do such a caring thing"


"She told me she wanted to honor a soldier for all they've done for this country," said Kari


"If it weren't for the generosity of other people that was completely a gift from God, it would not have happened," said Dan


In Washington, the Westbys got a room in an exclusive hotel along the parade route and near the US Capitol As part of their special treatment, the Wetstbys were allowed to watch the parade from their hotel rooftop with dozens of snipers and secret service officials nearby


They also were interviewed live on TV by Reporter Suzanne Malveaux from CNN


One of the couple's favorite moments was at the Commander-in-Chief's Ball which included guests of active-duty, reserve military, Medal of Honor recipients, Wounded Warriors and their spouses Dan and Kari had the opportunity to meet and talk to Gen Martin E Dempsey, the chief of staff of the US Army


"Wow, to see the commander in chief and talk with the chief of staff has been like a dream for me," said Dan, who has served for 16 years in the Guard "I am so blessed to have been given this opportunity to meet my superiors"


Dan has been deployed three times, once to Kosovo in 1999-2000 and twice to Iraq (2003-05, 2009) His duties are to detect enemy forces and track indirect fire as a field artillery radar operator


Kari works as a daycare provider out of her home and the Westbys have seven children, ages ranging from four to 14 Kari is also attempting to launch a Family Readiness Group (FRG) in Becker and have the City of Becker designated as a "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" city Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is a comprehensive program that creates awareness for the purpose of connecting Service members and their families with community support, training, services and resources


"This whole experience has just been amazing," said Kari "So many people stepping forward to help us out and showing their appreciation for my husband and his service It's been like a dream"

Bill Morgan
Staff Writer
1/25/2013 4:27:00 PM
Article source
http://www.citizennewspaper.com/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubSectionID=2&ArticleID=19962



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Minnesota National Guard conducts react to contact drills with Montenegro Armed Forces

Posted: 2016-09-14  10:13 AM
Immediate Response 16 U.S. and Montenegrin Soldiers tested their ability to perform battle drills that included squad attacks, react to contact, break contact, and react to ambush while supporting Immediate Response 16 at the Croatian Armed Forces training area of Slunj, Croatia.

"Training like IR16 gets the younger Soldiers the experience in a little more than just what we do at home by going to a different country, seeing a different culture, meeting different people, establishing relationships that you would never get if you go overseas," said Sgt. George Langstaff, a squad leader assigned to the Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry.

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Posted: 2016-09-13  04:28 PM
Disaster Simulation Exercise CANNON FALLS, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard partnered with the University of Minnesota and other humanitarian organizations in a collaborative program to train students and prospective humanitarian aid workers during a three-day Humanitarian Crisis Simulation exercise at the Phillippo Scout Reservation in Cannon Falls, Sept. 9-11, 2016.

"A goal is to help students gain an appreciation of humanitarian work by putting them in an environment typical of humanitarian crises," said Dr. Eric James, co-instructor for the course. "We put the students into complex scenarios so they can apply the knowledge and skills learned from the course. They get to experience first-hand the stress of making a decision under pressure while providing aid to refugees in an unfamiliar country."

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Minnesota National Guard hosts fun run to bring awareness to suicide prevention efforts

Posted: 2016-09-09  11:12 AM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The Minnesota National Guard is hosting a "Power of One" Fun Run, Sunday, September 11, during National Suicide Prevention Week to call attention to suicide prevention efforts in the military and civilian communities.

The run will take place at the Benjamin Franklin Readiness Center in Arden Hills and will help Minnesota Guardsmen meet annual suicide prevention training requirements while building unit cohesion and encouraging connectedness between battle buddies, family members and local community resource providers. The run emphasizes the power that one individual has to save a life and prevent suicide.

"The Minnesota National Guard is committed to preventing suicides in our organization," said Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General. "We are continually looking for new ways to bring the suicide prevention message to our Service members. Our people are our most precious resource and one loss to suicide is one too many."



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