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History
Minnesota National Guard
Looking to the Future Evokes a Torrent of Memories

Minnesota National Guard A letter to Army Magazine
by Gen John W Vessey


Thanks for the June issue It had a number of important articles for those interested in the future of America's Army

As always, Gen Frederick J Kroesen, US Army retired, had important thoughts for policymakers and voting citizens to consider ("More Than a Fair Share of Sacrifice") Special thanks to Lt Gen Daniel P Bolger, US Army retired, for "The Day Before D-Day" As one of those Fifth Army soldiers who marched through Rome that day, however, I'd say it was not the greatest day of the war That came almost a year later when the war ended, but it was certainly the second-best day of the war

Rome was an "open city," not bombed or shelled by either side, so the beauty of the city was awe-inspiring Once the Roman citizens realized what was happening, the streets were lined with cheering men, women and children At one point when the column slowed to a stop, a pretty girl stuck a rose in the muzzle of my carbine and planted a lipstick-laden kiss on my cheek Glasses of wine were proffered It was, indeed, a great day, particularly for those Fifth Army soldiers who had been engaged in tough fighting since late 1942 in Tunisia (even though our time in the headlines was very shortlived)

Far more important events took place in Normandy the next morning Our contribution to success at Normandy was keeping 36 good German divisions engaged far from Normandy, including the 1st, 2nd and 4th Parachute Divisions, the Hermann Goering Division, and 10 Panzer and Panzer Grenadier Divisions

In Bolger's list of Fifth Army elements, he missed the 34th "Red Bull" Division (my outfit), although he did list the 100th Battalion, which fought as a battalion of the 133rd Regiment of the 34th Division He also failed to mention the Polish 2nd Corps, whose fight to get into the fight on the Allied side is another tale worth telling The Brazilian Expeditionary Force had not yet joined Fifth Army, but its advance party was with the 34th Division on June 5 As first sergeant of a field artillery battery and then a newly minted second lieutenant, I had contact with soldiers from Britain, France, Canada, India, Algeria, Morocco, New Zealand, Palestine and Italy; there was no doubt that we were in a "world war"

In Daniel Goure's article, "Five Other Challenges Facing the Army," I'm a bit baffled by his paragraphs on "Balancing Regular Army and Reserve Forces" In the post-Vietnam era, Gen Creighton W Abrams Jr charged us to build "One Army" for the nation's needs from the Regulars and the Guard and Reserves That should be the watchword for the Army today as well National Guard divisions should mirror their Regular Army counterparts There may be some good reason, not apparent to me, for taking the Apaches out of the Guard division aviation brigades, but if that is the case, regular Apache outfits should be assigned to the Guard divisions so that training for battle can be uniform

Historically, Guard and Reserve aviation units in the Army and Air Force have been good high-readiness bargains Flying-hour programs have been the same as for the regular force The Guard and Reserve aviators are often involved in commercial aviation, and usually there has been more stability in the reserve component maintenance troops than in the active force Goure also writes, "Mobilization restrictions and training requirements make it highly doubtful that the National Guard could generate brigade combat teams rapidly enough to meet the initial response times for future conflicts"

True, but they can certainly be ready to reinforce by the time the regular forces are deployed Transportation will probably be the limiting factor

The planners need to decide when the Guard forces will be needed for deployment and then provide the necessary boosts to readiness--for example, enriching the mixture of full-timers, either Regulars or active, Guard, and Reserve soldiers Provide incentives to get Guard soldiers to fulfill training requirements on their own time; physical fitness and marksmanship are two easy examples I'm sure that smart planners and leaders in the Guard and the active Army can find sensible ways to make Guard units as ready as they need to be to fit the nation's needs

There are many communities in America where the only Army to be seen is the reserve component Army In the interest of Abrams' "One Army," whatever Army our citizens see ought to be top-notch

Gen John W Vessey
, USA Ret
Garrison, Minnesota




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Litchfield and Local Veteran Honor Gen. John Vessey at Armory Open House

Posted: 2017-03-10  08:50 AM
Vessey Bust LITCHFIELD, Minn. -Bruce Cottington, a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea, donated a bronze bust of Gen. John W. Vessey, Jr. to the Litchfield National Guard unit during the armory's public open house event March 4. Cottington, a Litchfield resident, commands the Minnesota Chapter of the Veterans of Underage Military Service. VUMS members enlisted in the military prior to the minimum age requirement in order to serve their country during WWII. Cottington received the bust from Vessey, a fellow VUMS member. Both enlisted in the military at the age of 16.

The highlight of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion open house was the unveiling of the sculpture. The unit was very supportive when Cottington proposed donating the sculpture. The Litchfield community has always been very supportive of the National Guard over the years, so the open house was a chance to say 'thanks' to their neighbors. "This was a great opportunity to honor Bruce and to honor Gen. Vessey," said B Co., 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion Commander, Capt. Seth Goreham. Bravo Company also has a tight relationship with the local American Legion and VFW. Many Litchfield citizens are former members of Bravo Company, or the unit's predecessors A Co, 682nd Engineer Battalion, and the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company.



Camp Ripley welcomes new command sergeant major

Posted: 2017-03-08  03:29 PM
CSM Erickson CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The garrison command team of Camp Ripley, family, friends and colleagues from the Minnesota National Guard attended a Change of Responsibility ceremony between Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Worden and Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Erickson, March 5, 2017, at Camp Ripley.

The ceremony was an official "passing of the sword" from one senior noncommissioned officer to the next and assumption of the duties and responsibilities that go along with the position of Garrison Command Sergeant Major.

As with many military ceremonies those in attendance welcomed Erickson as a new member of the team and bid farewell, recognized and thanked Worden for his service.



Norwegian youth recognized for response to vehicle accident

Posted: 2017-02-22  09:59 AM
NOREX youth 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."



To the top of the mountain and back, NOREX 44 members embrace the Norwegian winter

Posted: 2017-02-21  01:25 PM
NOREX FTX 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."



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