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History
Minnesota National Guard
Camp Ripley Court of Honor Inducts Three for 2013

Minnesota National Guard CAMP RIPLEY, Minn- The Camp Ripley Memorialization Board recently added three new inductees into the Camp Ripley Court of Honor The Court of Honor Induction Ceremony honored Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gary D Arne, Command Sgt Maj Howard Zins and Staff Sgt Melvin J Grams at the Camp Ripley Hangar Conference Center, October 6

Camp Ripley began memorializations in 1933 when 159 individuals where honored Between 1954 and 1965, eight deceased Minnesota Army National Guard personnel were honored with the distinction of being memorialized by having a street or terrain featured named after them During the 1980's, 110 individuals were added and the first "living-retired" individuals began to be honored with this distinction In 1988, the Court of Honor was established where nine individuals' names were etched in stone for the first time From 1933 to 2013, a total of 410 individuals have been memorialized at Camp Ripley

Arne began his military career at 19 and flew various missions including resupply, combat assaults and medical evacuations based at United States Marine Corps Base Chu Lai During his tours he was shot down six times and two of those times he had to escape and evade the enemy back to friendly lines During his deployment to Vietnam, he flew more than 1,300 combat flight hours

Arne's service did not end there as he continued his service and contributions in the Army Reserve and Minnesota National Guard He was instrumental in training pilots for tours in Iraq and Afghanistan He again deployed to Iraq in 2008 as the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade's Tactical Operations Officer Arne retired from the Minnesota National Guard after more than 40 years of military service He continues his service to the country as a civilian instructor at Fort Rucker, Ala, training future Army pilots

"It [Court of Honor] is a very prestigious group to be part of," said Arne "When you're gone for a couple of years you say that they forgot about you, obviously they didn't and I'm back and I'm very, very honored"

Zins began his career in 1961 with the Army Reserve and was discharged at the rank of Sergeant in 1969 In 1974, he joined the Minnesota National Guard in Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion 125th Field Artillery, in New Ulm, Minn During his career he held positions as team chief, section chief, communications chief/tactical communications chief, personnel staff non-commissioned officer, first sergeant and command sergeant major

Zins completed nearly 29 years of military service and was very active in the community He served as Commander of the Seifert/Bianchi American Legion Post #132 in New Ulm and was on the New Ulm National Guard Citizens Committee for 10 years He was also a member of the Minnesota Army National Guard Enlisted Association for 15 years Additionally, his community service encompassed a 37-year career in law enforcement and he retired as the New Ulm Chief of Police

"This is something I never ever expected," said Zins "I joined the Guard because I liked the military and I love my country I didn't do this for the retirement or the money so this is quite an honor"

The third person memorialized during the event was Staff Sgt Melvin J Grams He served as a tail gunner with the 384th Bombardment Group, 8th Army Air Force and was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart and Air Medal for his heroic actions during his deployment in Europe during World War II

Grams' Silver Star Citation reads as follows:

"For gallantry in action while on a bombardment mission over enemy territory, September 12, 1944 Serving as a tail gunner on a Flying Fortress, Sergeant Grams received a severe bullet wound to his left foot when his plane was attacked by enemy fighters Momentarily knocking him unconscious, and suffering intense pain, he regained his position and by sheer determination and willpower, fought off two more attacks Still refusing to leave his guns Sgt Grams then applied a tourniquet to his leg, and for more than an hour remained on alert Not until they had crossed into friendly territory could he be persuaded to leave his guns and receive emergency medical attention The fortitude, zealous devotion to duty and indomitable fighting spirit displayed by Sgt Grams, inspired his fellow crewmen and contributed to their safe return"

After he returned from his duty in Europe, Grams joined the Minnesota National Guard and served until 1950 At that time he started a clock repair business in Little Falls, Minn, married and raised 12 children He raised his children to be as hard-working and resourceful as he was In his unassuming manner he did not see himself as a hero or that his actions were any more than 'getting the job done' and he instilled that same mentality to his descendants Three of his sons were members of the Minnesota National Guard and three grandchildren are current members of the Minnesota National Guard

The three soldiers recognized on Sunday exemplified the true meaning and purpose of the Court of Honor by contributing significantly during their service and their communities as well For this their names will forever be memorialized in the Court of Honor at the Minnesota Military Museum at Camp Ripley

October 10, 2013
by Sgt John Angelo
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs



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