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Minnesota National Guard
Camp Ripley opens up for biennial event

Minnesota National Guard Area citizens checked out military training facility, aircraft, weaponry

LITTLE FALLS -- At Camp Ripley on Sunday, the doors to the grounds were wide open, and everyone was invited to the facility's biennial open house

The event, which ran from 10 am to 3 pm, allowed the public to see vehicles, aircraft and weaponry used by the Minnesota National Guard and explore parts of the facilities and grounds of the expansive military training facility

Mike Loftus and his seven-year-old son Emmett were two of hundreds who visited Sunday The duo was excited to see what Camp Ripley had to offer

"(Emmett is) interested in the military; he's always been intrigued by it," Mike Loftus said

That interest was apparent as Emmett Loftus was decked out in an outfit resembling homemade military fatigues One area in particular, however, drew the most attention for Emmett Loftus

"I'm having fun looking all the tanks," he said

His father was proud that at his young age, Emmett seemed so interested in the military

"It's great the passion that he shows for the military (The open house) just lets him know what they do here," Mike Loftus said

Post commander, Col Scott St Stauver, said inviting the public into the facility he calls home is a pleasure He believes the event helps foster common ground between civilians and soldiers

"Having the community come out and crawl on the equipment and being able to ask the soldiers what they do and how they do it, that's a pleasure," St Stauver said

The event Sunday held special significance, St Stauver said, because it paid respect to the "heroes of the home front," people who helped support soldiers and their families during deployment

"Basically just all those people that did something nice, something extra, something special for a soldier or family member that was deployed, and we just want to say thank you," he said

The day was one full of emotion and nostalgia for Jomaree Schave, her husband Don and their two grandchildren, six-year-old Benjamin and nine-year-old Nicole

Schave said she once worked at Camp Ripley, and her son -- Benjamin and Nicole's father -- currently serves in the military

"It brings back memories," Schave said "A lot has changed"

One thing that won't change for the Schaves, and others who visited, is how much Camp Ripley has to offer -- just one of the many reasons to return

Sep 15, 2013

Follow Ben Katzner on Twitter @BigKat0
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