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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: 2015-11-25 09:37 AM ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Women Veterans Initiative (WVI), a group orientated toward networking Minnesota women military members and veterans brought 16 service(wo)men from all services, ages and backgrounds together, November 12, to assist in a Habitat for Humanity build. Eleven of the 16 women are current or former Minnesota National Guardsmen.
"We started celebrating Veterans Day this way in 2008 with Habitat for Humanity and enjoy coming back each year to build," said Trista Matascastillo, program officer for Veterans Voices and chairman for the WVI. "We learn new skills, build our own confidence and make new friends. There are 27,000-plus women vets in Minnesota and so often we hear that women veterans feel isolated and alone and having events like this is just another way to bring us out and together."
The group started in the morning with a brief on the tasks for the day and quickly got to work, going above and beyond by organizing the work-site and making sure there was a high attention to detail.
The event featured a C-130 tour for any of the attendees, which included girls as young as nine. Following the tour, the documentary film 'Girl Rising' was featured and ended with a panel discussion. Topics included overcoming obstacles, mentors and people who have inspired them along the way.
"I think events like this are essential in opening our doors to the community and raising awareness about important issues not only local, but around the world - often these are places many of our wing members have deployed to," said Master Sgt. Theresa Mensinger, Diversity and Inclusion Senior Non-commissioned officer.
Posted: 2015-11-16 07:47 AM DULUTH, Minn. - With the handing-off of the 148th Fighter Wing's flag on Saturday, Col. Jon Safstrom has become the new wing commander.
The Duluth native assumed the leadership role from Col. Frank Stokes, who is leaving Duluth after leading the 148th for more than six years to become chief of current operations at the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va.
During Saturday's Change of Command Ceremony at the Minnesota Air National Guard base in Duluth, Stokes passed the flag of the 148th "Bulldogs" to Brig. Gen. David Hamlar, who then passed the flag to Safstrom, symbolizing the accepting of the command.
Posted: 2015-11-12 12:51 PM BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - Airmen from the 133rd Airlift Wing and employees from Best Buy Corporate joined forces to support Operation Gratitude at the Best Buy corporate headquarters in Bloomington, Minn., Friday, Nov. 6, 2015.
Operation Gratitude is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer-based corporation, funded entirely by private donations. Every year, Operation Gratitude sends more than 150,000 individually-addressed care packages to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed overseas.
On Friday, more than 30 members from the 133rd Airlift Wing worked side-by-side with employees of Best Buy Corporate to pack bags filled with snacks, small electronics and other items to be shipped to deployed military members overseas. The efforts paid off and the group packed nearly 1,800 bags in under an hour.