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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: 2015-11-25 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.