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Guard the Field brings students and Vikings together
BLOOMINGTON, Minn - Pfc Cody Raatz, a member of the Albert Lea High School football team, never imagined he would be playing football at the Minnesota Vikings' Winter Park training facility with some of his favorite professional football players
"You don't get many opportunities to meet the football players you watch on TV," Raatz said "Let alone have the chance to throw a ball around with them"
Raatz was just one of a group of high school students from across the state who participated in the Minnesota National Guard's annual "Guard the Field" event Jan 12, 2013 The event provided a unique opportunity for the high school athletes to meet some of their role models
The day started with a panel of players offering advice and answering questions, followed by running drills on the field
"The biggest piece of advice I have to give to these kids is don't be that guy they say could have made it; be the guy who makes it Keep yourself motivated and always give 100 percent," shared Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson
Raatz sees his decision to join the Minnesota National Guard as a way to reach his 100 percent "Basic training changed me," he said "I know now about how much potential I do have In ten weeks you can really learn a lot about yourself"
His family and friends have seen the changes too "A lot of my friends are pretty amazed that I enlisted so young and actually went to basic training Most have said that I came back a different person I'm pretty proud of that," Raatz explained
"Being in the Army is a lot like football," Raatz continued "Basic training is 30 percent physical and 70 percent mental It's also about working as a team with your fellow Soldiers to get the job done"
That is a sentiment shared by Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen "The game's mostly mental You need to start with the basics, build your team and put in a lot of hard work to make it," he advised the students
"You reap what you sow in football and the National Guard," Raatz stated "In football you lift weights, run, practice, etc in hopes of winning games The coach guides you In basic training your drill sergeants give you the tools you need and teach you to use them It's up to you to put them to use If you want to succeed you will In the National Guard it's all about how hard you work and how well you do your job that determines how far you can go"
Each year the Recruiting and Retention Battalion hosts the "Guard the Field" event Staff Sgt Dajon Ferrell explained the mission as an opportunity for the Minnesota National Guard and the Minnesota Vikings to teach teamwork and dedication to the group of students "'Guard the Field' gives them the opportunity to pay if forward to the next generation," she explained
Jan 12, 2013
Staff Sgt Danielle Eineke
34th Red Bull Infantry Division Public Affairs
Posted: 2017-02-22 09:59 AM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Norwegian youths Stian Dahl and Haavard Engen received the Camp Ripley Garrison Commander's coin from Col. Scott St Sauver February 19, 2017, in recognition for reacting to a vehicle accident they witnessed earlier that week.
As part of the U.S.-Norway Reciprocal Troop Exchange, Norwegian youths ages 19-20 are matched up with a host family in order to spend an evening experiencing American culture. In most situations the "Buddy Weekend" as it's called allows the youths to go shopping, attend events and have home-cook meals along with their host family.
"We are able to match up youth members with families all over the state," said Staff Sgt. Tim Krouth, Buddy Weekend organizer. "Lots of the families have hosted one or two of our Norwegian friends for several years in a row now, it a great way to relax and see some of Minnesota."
Posted: 2017-02-21 01:25 PM HALTDALEN, Norway - After two days at a base camp near Haltdalen, Norway, Minnesota National Guardsmen participating in the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange were ready for the most challenging aspect of their four-day field training exercise - a ski march up the mountain.
It was Day three of the FTX, meaning members of the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange had slowly adjusted to surviving and thriving while living in a winter environment and also honed their skills on cross country skills well enough to begin a climb that would take nearly three hours.
"Our goal was to get you to know how to use the winter, see how the Norwegians use the winter, and how we survive the winter so we can conduct combat," said Vidar Aune, one of several members of Home Guard 12 guiding the Minnesota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen during their training here. "By getting the experience living outside in the snow, you manage to survive it and handle it quite well."
Posted: 2017-02-16 10:52 AM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. -Youth of the Norwegian Home Guard experienced some of Minnesota culture along with focused military style training during the first week of NOREX 2017.
The U.S.--Norway reciprocal Troop Exchange, which began Feb. 9, 2017, annually swaps approximately 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard and a like number of Norwegian Home Guard soldiers as well as youths to experience each other's training, military lifestyle and most importantly, culture.
"It's rewarding interacting with more young people eager to learn about a new lifestyle and culture," said Capt. Brett Farniok, Youth Platoon Officer-in-Charge.
Posted: 2017-02-12 01:38 PM CAMP VAERNES, Norway - Following a muster at the 133rd Airlift Wing and an eight-hour overnight flight across the Atlantic Ocean, nearly 100 Soldiers and Airmen with the Minnesota National Guard finally arrived in Norway to conduct the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange on Feb. 9, 2017.
While the U.S.-based Soldiers were warmly greeted by members of the Norwegian Home Guard at Camp Vaernes, a similarly-sized group of Norwegian Home Guard members were received at Camp Ripley Training Center. The arrival of military members from both countries to their host nations formally began the annual exchange, which provides a unique opportunity for individuals to become fully-immersed in foreign military and social culture.
"Though I didn't know what to expect before getting here, they have been very welcoming," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Taylor Hanson, a member of the 148th Fighter Wing. "They are making sure we had everything."