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: 2013-12-10 04:14 AM
The Minnesota National Guard Chaplain Corps became more "purple" today with the "passing of the stole" from Army Chaplain (Col.) John Morris to Air Force Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Tim Martenson. Martenson is the Minnesota National Guard's newest State Chaplain and its first Air Force State Chaplain. The ceremony took place at North Heights Lutheran Church, Arden Hills, Minn. Dec. 9. The presiding officer for the changing of the stole was Col. Jon Jensen, Joint Chief of Staff, Minnesota National Guard.
"I stepped into this stole with my head bowed in humility and that is truly how I accept it today," said Martenson. "Chaplain Morris was my mentor, he reshaped me and reformed me as a joint chaplain. Thank you John Morris for all you have done for me and this state. I stand before you the first Air Force State Chaplain humbled by mentorship."
Posted: 2013-12-07 05:07 PM ROSEMOUNT, Minn. - In a ceremony rich with military tradition, the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division command was passed at the Rosemount National Guard Armory, Dec. 7. The occasion marks the beginning of a new era in 34th Red Bull Infantry Division history.
Brig. Gen. Neal Loidolt assumed command of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division from Maj. Gen. David Elicerio who held the position since November 2010. The Change of Command ceremony symbolized the official transfer of individual authority and responsibility of an organization from the outgoing to the incoming commander.
Posted: 2013-12-06 01:14 PM FARMINGTON, Minn. - A program that started five years ago in a small suburb of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area has grown into a national model for community support for military members, veterans and their families. With a population of just over 21,000, the city of Farmington, Minn., formed the first Yellow Ribbon Network in December 2008 and has been leading the way in helping Service members and their families with community-based resources and services.
"It takes a village to do what you have done and you have become that model for the rest of the cities across this nation," said Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General.