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: 2014-12-18 10:32 AM HUGO, Minn.- The city of Hugo celebrated its fifth anniversary as a Yellow Ribbon community at their city council meeting, Dec.15. The Minnesota National Guard's, Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Richard C. Nash, and Director of Military Outreach, Annette Kuyper, were on hand to say thank you to Hugo and its Yellow Ribbon Network volunteers.
"This city has changed how citizens can come together to support, honor and recognize veterans, Service members and their families," said Nash. "I especially commend Chuck Haas for all he has done to lead these efforts in your community."
Hugo Yellow Ribbon network Chairman Chuck Haas, a retired business owner, proud grandfather of six and a member of the Hugo city council since 1998 has been part of the Hugo program since the beginning.
Posted: 2014-12-16 08:13 AM BLOOMINGTON, Minn.- The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., became a Yellow Ribbon company earlier this year, which proclaims the company's dedication to past and present Service members and their families. To celebrate this, they held its first Holiday for Heroes event at the Mall the morning of Dec. 14.
The event shut down the park for a few hours on Sunday to allow veterans and their families to come and enjoy all the rides for free, as well as some food and giveaways. More than 3,000 took part in the event, but the day will be the most unforgettable for family and friends of 1st Sgt. Robert Renning of the 133rd Airlift Wing in St. Paul, Minn.
After pre-deployment training at Fort Dix, N.J., the unit arrived in Eqypt in mid-October to begin their mission of providing health service support, medical care and health protection measures for members of 14 different nations that make up the MFO.
Capt. Jonathan Vang, commander of the 204th ASMC, recently called in to Minnesota Military Radio to give an update on how the unit is adapting to its new mission overseas.
Posted: 2014-12-15 01:01 PM DULUTH, Minn.- Seven Airmen from the 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. were given the opportunity to visit with the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody on Nov. 1, 2014. Chief Cody was in Minnesota to visit the 934th Airlift Wing, Minneapolis, Minn. during their drill weekend and held an Airmen's Call which members of the 148FW attended.
During the Airmen's Call, Chief Cody stressed the importance of all components of the Air Force to include the Guard and Reserve, discussed downsizing the force and what that might mean to future missions and thanked everyone for the contributions they make to the Air Force.
"I thought that the Chief's town-hall meeting format was great. He opened the floor to questions right off the bat and really put himself out there for the ranks to ask questions, said Master Sgt. Nick Downs, 148th Fighter Wing. The atmosphere and his demeanor made it comfortable for any Airman to ask questions."