Minnesotan, Norwegian Soldiers Celebrate 40 Years of Partnership
After two action-packed weeks, the 40th Anniversary of the Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange (NOREX) has come an end. The longest partnership-in-training between two nations, NOREX has been, and continues to be, a shining example of the positive reciprocity that can exist between allied militaries.
Together, Norwegian and Minnesotan troops have braved the cold and snow, skied up mountains, and slept in shelters created with bare, or rather gloved, hands. Not only have the two military groups worked hard together, they have also played well together. No event demonstrated that better than the evening of NOREX's Viking Feast.
Dressed in costumes, designed themselves out of potato sacks, Minnesota troops were treated to an elaborate production re-enacting events which would have taken place in the home of a Viking chieftain. Following the production, each troop was given their own Viking helmet (though made of plastic) and brought to feast on a traditional Norwegian meal.
The following evening also held its traditions, but this time looking a bit more formal than the ancient Vikings. Military leaders from the Minnesota National Guard traveled to Norway to dine with their Norwegian counterparts and the other NOREX participants at a farewell banquet.
"Our troop exchange began in 1974, and is the longest-running military exchange partnership between any two nations," spoke Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard. "This yearly exchange promotes goodwill and sharpens military readiness between our two nations."
In his address to the gathering at the Camp Vaernes dining facility, Nash shared a brief history of the close military bond between Minnesota and Norway. Afterwards, he presented Maj. Gen. Kristin Lund, Chief of Staff of the Norwegian Home Guard, with a unique gift.
"After the invasion of Norway from Nazi Germany, the 99th Infantry Battalion was created at Camp Ripley, Minn.," explained Nash. "All members of this unit were of Norwegian decent, and more than half were from Minnesota. Their mission was to assist in the Norwegian Resistance in efforts against the Nazis. Lund, in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the exchange program, we present you with an intact, historically correct uniform from a Minnesota Soldier who served in the 99th Infantry Battalion."
A round of applause arose in the room as Lund took a closer look at the gift. With misty eyes her only words were, "I'm speechless."
As an idea and partnership that began with a simple handshake, the Norwegian Exchange has grown to represent a unique camaraderie that exists between two nations.
"You have been working hard, and have made the Troop Exchange program what it is today, so thank you," Lund said, addressing NOREX participants. "I also hope that you have found a lot of friends. That is also an important part of this exchange--the bond between people."
Having demonstrated the purpose of the Norwegian Exchange; training and friendship building; and seeing it cumulate to one evening, members of the Minnesota National Guard shared one more meal with their Norwegian friends. For many, this certainly won't be the last.
"Even though I had my first exchange forty years ago, I still keep contact with people," shared Lund. "I hope that you will come back to Norway again."
Feb. 28, 2013
Story by Spc. Linsey Williams
Minnesota National Guard
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 Mortenson. "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 12:00 AM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.- Minnesota National Guard Service members gathered at Camp Ripley during the first snowfall of the season for the 3rd Annual muzzle loaders hunt December 2-4, 2013.
"We all love hunting and talk about it during the deployments," said Col. Paul Roecker, Operations Officer for the Minnesota National Guard Joint Force Headquarters. "Hunts like this one are a great chance for Soldiers and Airmen to get out and enjoy a sport that they may have missed out on during a deployment."