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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: 2016-08-26 03:01 PM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2016
ST. PAUL, Minn.-
The sixth annual Military Appreciation Day at the Minnesota State Fair presented by USAA on Tuesday, August 30, will recognize Minnesota's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program and provide an educational opportunity for all fairgoers to learn about Minnesota's military community.
"Veterans, active duty service members, and military families deserve our immense gratitude for their sacrifice and commitment," said Governor Mark Dayton. "Since 2008, over 290 cities, counties, businesses and non-profits have joined Minnesota's "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" program, and are now providing community support and employment assistance to veterans and military families. I thank these organizations for their leadership, and encourage all Minnesotans to thank and support our military heroes."
A 10:00 a.m. program at the Minnesota State Fair's Leinie Lodge Bandshell will celebrate Minnesota's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program. The program will conclude at 10:25 a.m. with a historic flyover of World War II-era P6 and B25 aircraft.
Posted: 2016-08-25 03:26 PM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2016
ST. PAUL, Minn.-
More than 150 Soldiers from the Minnesota Army National Guard's 682nd Engineer Battalion will return to Willmar Saturday following a mobilization in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
"The Soldiers of Task Force Wild excelled in their mission, and were recognized across the theater for their hard work and dedication," said Lt. Col. Keith Ferdon, battalion commander. "I couldn't be prouder of how our Soldiers represented the State of Minnesota."
The mission of the Task Force was to provide horizontal and vertical engineer construction in support of coalition forces in the region. The Soldiers oversaw the planning and execution of 285 construction projects with an approximate total value of 20.2 million dollars in seven countries: Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.
Posted: 2016-08-19 01:53 PM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 19, 2016
ST. PAUL, Minn.-
With the implementation of the "REAL ID Act" going into effect at Department of Defense installations nationwide, access will no longer be granted to Minnesotans carrying standard state-issued identification cards. Beginning this week, Minnesota residents will be required to have an approved escort or use alternative forms of identification to access the following installations:
- 133rd Airlift Wing, St. Paul
- 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth
- 934th Joint Base, Minneapolis
- Military Facility at Fort Snelling
Without a 'Real ID,' access will be granted only to individuals with an approved escort (i.e. a service member with a Common Access Card), or carrying one of the approved alternative forms of acceptable ID.
Posted: 2016-08-19 08:22 AM General John W. Vessey, Jr., a former member of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Red Bull Infantry Division and the 10th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away August 18, 2016, at the age of 94.
General John W. Vessey, Jr. was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 29 June 1922. He enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard in May 1939 while still in high school, becoming a member of Headquarters, 59th Field Artillery Brigade, 34th Infantry Division. He was only 16 and fibbed about his age to join. With other members of his unit he was called to active duty in February 1941. When war came, the 34th became the first American division sent to Europe, where it initially fought in North Africa and then in Italy. A natural leader, Vessey rose quickly in the enlisted ranks until 6 May 1944 when, pinned down on the Anzio Beachhead amidst high casualties, the 21-year old battery first sergeant was given a battlefield commission and sent forward to direct artillery fire.
Vessey decided to stay in the Army after war. During his first 30 years of military service, he spent most of his time in combat divisions. In addition to his World War II assignment with the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division in North Africa and Italy, Vessey served with the 4th Infantry Division and 3rd Armored Division in Germany, the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam and was commanding general of the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Carson, Colorado.
He attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He also graduated from the University of Maryland. His love of flying prompted him to earn his wings, which he always wore proudly. When he graduated from the Army Helicopter School in 1970, he was 15 years older than the next oldest student.