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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: 2017-02-22 09:59 AM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Norwegian youths Stian Dahl and Haavard Engen received the Camp Ripley Garrison Commander's coin from Col. Scott St Sauver February 19, 2017, in recognition for reacting to a vehicle accident they witnessed earlier that week.
As part of the U.S.-Norway Reciprocal Troop Exchange, Norwegian youths ages 19-20 are matched up with a host family in order to spend an evening experiencing American culture. In most situations the "Buddy Weekend" as it's called allows the youths to go shopping, attend events and have home-cook meals along with their host family.
"We are able to match up youth members with families all over the state," said Staff Sgt. Tim Krouth, Buddy Weekend organizer. "Lots of the families have hosted one or two of our Norwegian friends for several years in a row now, it a great way to relax and see some of Minnesota."
Posted: 2017-02-21 01:25 PM HALTDALEN, Norway - After two days at a base camp near Haltdalen, Norway, Minnesota National Guardsmen participating in the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange were ready for the most challenging aspect of their four-day field training exercise - a ski march up the mountain.
It was Day three of the FTX, meaning members of the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange had slowly adjusted to surviving and thriving while living in a winter environment and also honed their skills on cross country skills well enough to begin a climb that would take nearly three hours.
"Our goal was to get you to know how to use the winter, see how the Norwegians use the winter, and how we survive the winter so we can conduct combat," said Vidar Aune, one of several members of Home Guard 12 guiding the Minnesota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen during their training here. "By getting the experience living outside in the snow, you manage to survive it and handle it quite well."
Posted: 2017-02-16 10:52 AM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. -Youth of the Norwegian Home Guard experienced some of Minnesota culture along with focused military style training during the first week of NOREX 2017.
The U.S.--Norway reciprocal Troop Exchange, which began Feb. 9, 2017, annually swaps approximately 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard and a like number of Norwegian Home Guard soldiers as well as youths to experience each other's training, military lifestyle and most importantly, culture.
"It's rewarding interacting with more young people eager to learn about a new lifestyle and culture," said Capt. Brett Farniok, Youth Platoon Officer-in-Charge.
Posted: 2017-02-12 01:38 PM CAMP VAERNES, Norway - Following a muster at the 133rd Airlift Wing and an eight-hour overnight flight across the Atlantic Ocean, nearly 100 Soldiers and Airmen with the Minnesota National Guard finally arrived in Norway to conduct the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange on Feb. 9, 2017.
While the U.S.-based Soldiers were warmly greeted by members of the Norwegian Home Guard at Camp Vaernes, a similarly-sized group of Norwegian Home Guard members were received at Camp Ripley Training Center. The arrival of military members from both countries to their host nations formally began the annual exchange, which provides a unique opportunity for individuals to become fully-immersed in foreign military and social culture.
"Though I didn't know what to expect before getting here, they have been very welcoming," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Taylor Hanson, a member of the 148th Fighter Wing. "They are making sure we had everything."