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: 2015-07-06 03:22 PM
Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard are demonstrating the power of the U.S. military abroad - the power to heal.
Members of the 851st Vertical Engineer Company are in the midst of a three-week deployment, working 15-hour days to repair a community center in the small village of Račinovci in Croatia, a southeastern European country that is bordered by Hungary to the north.
Since mid-June, they have been working side by side with the Croatian army in a humanitarian mission to restore the 70-year-old building after it was heavily damaged by flooding.
Posted: 2015-07-06 02:37 PM RACINOVIC, Croatia - Motivation comes in variety of ways, some find it with a book, some find it at the gym and some find it with the inspirational words and actions of another.
For Spc. Alyssa Bier, her dedication and drive to be a part of the 851st Vertical Engineering Company came with the words and actions of a particular first lieutenant and the inspiration to be the first female in her family to join.
"Up until when I joined, the military members in my family were all men," said Bier.
Posted: 2015-07-02 01:09 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Across the state of Minnesota, more than 4,500 miles of active railroad track is used to move material, equipment and passengers - an extension of a system which started on May 22, 1857.
"Burlington Northern - Santa Fe Railway has a rich history supporting our military, reaching back to the Civil War. Today BNSF still works closely with the Department of Defense to coordinate movement of large equipment by rail, including to and from Camp Ripley, near Little Falls," said Amy McBeth, a spokesperson for Burlington Northern - Santa Fe.
In addition to three classifications of railway systems, the federal government identified a system of railroads for the purpose of moving government equipment to support the defense of the United States.