| Inaugural Dream Comes True
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"
1/25/2013 4:27:00 PM
Former Guardsman Continues to Lead, Mentor
Posted: 2016-02-12 12:42 PM
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Throughout a military career that spanned several decades, retired Army Master Sgt. Ivy Alexander successfully managed the many challenges of deployments, a civilian career and raising a family.
Alexander attributes some of her career success to the skills she developed as an Army paralegal specialist, where her ability to conduct thorough research on any given issue was invaluable to the commanders and judge advocates she supported.
Minnesota and Iowa UAS operators train together at Camp Ripley
Posted: 2016-02-10 02:18 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Soldiers of the Iowa National Guard's Special Troops Battalion visited Camp Ripley, Feb. 8-13 to train in Unmanned Aerial Systems.
Operators and technicians of Company B, Brigade Special Troops Battalion a part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division conducted training along with Minnesota "Redbulls" in order to meet mandatory requirements for UAS operation.
"It's an annual requirement, we have to maintain a certain amount of flight time in order to stay certified," said Staff Sgt. Francisco Hernandez, group leader.
Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Academy continues on Camp Ripley
Posted: 2016-02-03 11:48 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Minnesota State Patrol began its 57th Trooper Academy Jan. 25 at Camp Ripley.
"Our first training school was held on Camp Ripley from May to July of 1931," said Lt. Eric Barthel, training academy officer.
Since its creation on April 24, 1929, the Minnesota State Patrol has maintained a presence of state law enforcement officers on Minnesota highways. They became ambassadors of "good will" to let people see them, get acquainted with them and to enforce the provisions of the law.
Internet scams and impersonation
Posted: 2016-01-29 01:22 PM
The Army Criminal Investigation Command receives hundreds of allegations a month from victims who state they got involved in an online relationship with someone, on a legitimate dating website or other social media website, who claims to be a U.S. Soldier. The "Soldier" then begins asking for money for various false service-related needs such as transportation costs, communication fees, marriage, processing and medical fees. Victims of these online scams have lost tens of thousands of dollars, with a very low possibility of recovery.
The U.S. has established numerous task force organizations to deal with this growing epidemic; unfortunately, many times the people committing these scams are from foreign countries using untraceable email addresses, routing accounts through numerous locations around the world and utilizing pay per hour Internet cyber cafes, which often times maintain no accountability of use.