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Minnesota National Guard
133rd Airlift Wing members return from Afghanistan

Family, friends and fellow Airmen gathered at the 133rd Airlift Wing to welcome home Airmen from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan Saturday, Feb18, Wednesday, Feb 21 and Friday, Feb 23

Approximately 80 Airmen returned home after providing C-130 airlift support in Afghanistan since January 2007

While deployed, 133 AW members partnered with Peoria, Ill to complete the airlift mission "We never worked with Peoria before, so it was a unique situation, they are a good bunch of people, I would probably go anywhere with them," said Senior Master Sgt Danny Dahms, flight line pro super, 133AW Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

This is Senior Master Sgt Dahms third deployment and while in Afghanistan he supervised 42 Airmen who worked the evening shift from 1 pm to 1 am, seven days a week

"Troop moral was really good," said Master Sgt Dahms "If you weren't working, you were sleeping"

This deployment was unique because Airmen were stationed in their area of operations The 133AW members lived in theatre, which is considered inside the box, rather than residing outside the box and then flying missions into theater, explained Maj Jeff Wong, pilot with the 109th Airlift Squadron

While aircrews were executing airdrop missions overseas, they used the newest global positioning technology called Joint Precision Airdrop System that allows cargo bundles dropped from C-130s to steer themselves to drop zones
"JPADS is a pretty remarkable system," said Maj Wong "We were able to airdrop supplies from about 17,000 feet and still able to land it within a 100 yards of where the Army asked for it"

Although there was not a lot of personal time in between missions, Maj Wong managed to continue his hobby of ice hockey through email

Maj Wong is an assistant hockey coach for White Bear Lake Peewees and has been coaching the same age group for five years While in Afghanistan, kids would email game summaries after each game to keep him informed of their performance

When Maj Wong was deployed, the White Bear Lake Peewee Hockey Team did not forget about his discipline on the ice

"He is a definite influence on everyone, he is guy who knows how to enforce discipline," said Tommy Tusa, 13, White Bear Lake Peewee Black Hockey Team player "Jeff keeps everyone in line for not screwing around when it's important"

"I think discipline is an important part of the game and it's an important part of life," said Maj Wong "They are 12-year-old kidsand if you can teach them something about life that they will take away, that is probably more important in the long run"

About one week before Maj Wong deployed, the hockey team gave him a farewell hockey stick salute on the ice and upon his return on Feb 18, 13 players saluted him as he walked off the aircraft

After the initial reunion with family and friends, all returning members were in-processed and then briefed for the first time about the Minnesota Air National Guard Reintegration Program

The reintegration program is to help returning troops and their families with successful transition back to family, friends, society and employment after a deployment

The new program is structured in three phases The first phase includes an extensive briefing from professional experts and state agencies 30-days after their return Phase two includes a mailer providing critical information to members and families if challenges arise after the 30-day point The third phase is scheduled between the 90 to 120-day point after returning and will enable the medical group to perform the mandatory post-deployment health reassessment Additionally, the Mission Support Flight will invite other agencies from outside and around the wing to participate in supporting the returning members and their families

"We (members in Mission Support Flight) are not the subject matter experts," said 1st Lt Jason Hull, Readiness Management Officer, 133rd Mission Support Flight "We guide people to the agencies to assist with any problems"

The three-phased process allows returning members and their families to hear about a variety of programs and helps members better remember the available services, Lt Hull explained

Now that the first rotation of 80 Airmen completed their mission in Afghanistan, another large group will report to Bagram Airfield in April At this time, both Minnesota National Guard and Illinois members will work together again to execute the mission overseas

Story by 1st Lt Sheree Savage,
Minnesota Air National Guard Public Affairs

Photo gallery

133rd Airlift Wing returns from Afghanistan
The final group from the 133rd Airlift Wing return from their tour in Afghanistan.

133rd Airlift Wing returns from Afghanistan
Family and friends welcome home a safe return of Airmen from Afghanistan to the 133rd Airlift Wing in St. Paul.

133rd Airlift Wing returns from Afghanistan
The first of three groups from the 133rd Airlift Wing return from their tour in Afghanistan.





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Funeral arrangements announced for Gen. John W. Vessey Jr.

Posted: 2016-08-29  04:56 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn.- Funeral arrangements have been set for Gen. John William Vessey Jr. who passed away August 18, 2016, at the age of 94. Vessey, a Minnesota native, enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard as a private in 1939 and served as the tenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from June 18, 1982 to September 30, 1985.

"General John W. Vessey is a national treasure with a military legacy unmatched in the history of the Minnesota National Guard or the U.S. Army. His passing is nationally significant and yet very personal to many in the Minnesota National Guard, including me," said Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General. "General Vessey has been a mentor, and a friend; though missed by many, he will never be forgotten."

A religious service will take place Wednesday, August 31, at 1:00 p.m. at the Fort Snelling Chapel where he married his wife, Avis, in 1945. This service is open to the public and the media.



Minnesota's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Program to be recognized on State Fair Military Appreciation Day

Posted: 2016-08-26  03:01 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The sixth annual Military Appreciation Day at the Minnesota State Fair presented by USAA on Tuesday, August 30, will recognize Minnesota's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program and provide an educational opportunity for all fairgoers to learn about Minnesota's military community.

"Veterans, active duty service members, and military families deserve our immense gratitude for their sacrifice and commitment," said Governor Mark Dayton. "Since 2008, over 290 cities, counties, businesses and non-profits have joined Minnesota's "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" program, and are now providing community support and employment assistance to veterans and military families. I thank these organizations for their leadership, and encourage all Minnesotans to thank and support our military heroes."

A 10:00 a.m. program at the Minnesota State Fair's Leinie Lodge Bandshell will celebrate Minnesota's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program. The program will conclude at 10:25 a.m. with a historic flyover of World War II-era P6 and B25 aircraft.



Willmar-based National Guardsmen to return home Saturday

Posted: 2016-08-25  03:26 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn.-

More than 150 Soldiers from the Minnesota Army National Guard's 682nd Engineer Battalion will return to Willmar Saturday following a mobilization in support of Operation Spartan Shield.

"The Soldiers of Task Force Wild excelled in their mission, and were recognized across the theater for their hard work and dedication," said Lt. Col. Keith Ferdon, battalion commander. "I couldn't be prouder of how our Soldiers represented the State of Minnesota."

The mission of the Task Force was to provide horizontal and vertical engineer construction in support of coalition forces in the region. The Soldiers oversaw the planning and execution of 285 construction projects with an approximate total value of 20.2 million dollars in seven countries: Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.



Minnesota Identification Card will no longer grant access to Department of Defense installations

Posted: 2016-08-19  01:53 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 19, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn.- With the implementation of the "REAL ID Act" going into effect at Department of Defense installations nationwide, access will no longer be granted to Minnesotans carrying standard state-issued identification cards. Beginning this week, Minnesota residents will be required to have an approved escort or use alternative forms of identification to access the following installations:

- 133rd Airlift Wing, St. Paul
- 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth
- 934th Joint Base, Minneapolis
- Military Facility at Fort Snelling

Without a 'Real ID,' access will be granted only to individuals with an approved escort (i.e. a service member with a Common Access Card), or carrying one of the approved alternative forms of acceptable ID.



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