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: 2015-03-04 09:39 AM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- A little more than a year after Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Houdek was severely injured in a farming accident near his Little Falls, Minn., home, he is back to work with the Minnesota National Guard and adapting to life with a prosthetic.
"When I came out of the first surgery, they were telling me that they were hoping that within a year I would be able to hold a pen," said Houdek. "Since then I've come a lot further, a lot more than what they had thought."
On Nov. 12, 2013, Houdek took a day off from his full-time job as a wage leader at Camp Ripley's Consolidated Maintenance Activity - South to harvest corn on his 60-acre hobby farm. Halfway through, he stopped to check on his machinery, leaving the tractor running. When he went to clear some corn out of the husking bin of the picker, his right arm was pulled into the shaft. As he was trying to pull his right hand out, his left hand got caught in another shaft, trapping both his arms in the machine.
Posted: 2015-02-25 03:15 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- Soldiers of the Norwegian Home Guard conducted inter-agency training with state and local law enforcement, Feb. 12-23, 2015, at Camp Ripley.
"The training conducted by the Norwegian Rapid Reaction Force, or RRF, is based on the National Guard's focus of inter-agency cooperation in time of need," said Lt. Col. Bryce Erickson of the Minnesota National Guard.
The training was organized as part of the American-Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange; which is in its 42nd consecutive year between the Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard.
Posted: 2015-02-24 10:14 AM SNAASA, Norway- Airmen and Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard participating in the 42nd American - Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange (NOREX) retraced the steps of U.S. and Norwegian special operators 70 years ago who, during the final months of World War II, waged a successful sabotage campaign against German forces occupying Norway.
The U.S. Service members, along with their Norwegian counterparts, completed a 12-mile trek on skis through mountainous terrain, as well as a reconnaissance of the Jorstad bridge and simulated demolition using signal flares. The field training exercise concluded, February 19, 2015, with a ceremony in honor of those who destroyed the bridge to stop the movement of German troops through Norway and a wreath-laying in memory of the 80 people who perished, January 13, 1945, when a train derailed into the icy water several hours after the demolition.
Posted: 2015-02-23 11:06 AM DULUTH, Minn.- Whether he is performing his duties at the 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn., or volunteering as the Fire Chief for the Rice Lake Volunteer Fire Department, Senior Master Sgt. Scott Twining epitomizes the Air Force core value of "service before self".
As a member of the volunteer fire department and a first responder, Twining and the rest of the Rice Lake Fire Department team are often the first emergency response personnel to get to a scene. Twining estimates that 80 percent of their calls are for medical emergencies.
On Jan. 7, 2015, Twining and other members of the fire department responded to a call for help at a local business establishment. Upon their arrival, a male in his mid-fifties was collapsing from a heart attack. After a quick medical assessment, Twining and other team members set up a defibrillator and began to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).