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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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Camp Ripley earns top environmental award

Posted: 2017-04-26  02:09 PM
Mississippi River CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Department of Defense announced that Camp Ripley was selected as the winner of the Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for Natural Resources Conservation, Large Installation.

The awards recognize individuals, teams and installations for their exceptional environmental achievements and innovative, cost-effective environmental practices.

"The winners' efforts strengthen the Department of Defense's position as a resourceful environmental steward, both at home and abroad, and demonstrate our continued commitment to fulfilling mission needs through advanced environmental practices and technologies," stated James A. MacStravic, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.



Minnesota Guardsman finds work with victims in the military and the local community rewarding

Posted: 2017-04-26  10:57 AM
Neely COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Nicquie Neely has been working with victims of sexual assault for four years in the Minnesota National Guard and also volunteers as a victim advocate in the community. As a victim advocate, it's her job to believe and support victims through a difficult process that can often involve extensive medical care and legal proceedings.

"Ever since I joined the Guard and heard about the SHARP program and learned what a victim advocate was, I always wanted to be one," said Neely. "And then I learned that you had to be an E-6 to be in that position, so the minute I got promoted I asked my commander if I could go to the training."

Neely is a combat medic and the full-time training and administration NCO with Company C, 134th Brigade Support Battalion. In addition to military victim advocate training, Neely also attends regular training with the civilian organization she volunteers for - SOS Sexual Violence Services in Ramsey County.



Minnesota National Guard Remembers the Holocaust with Jewish Community Relations Council

Posted: 2017-04-24  10:43 AM
Holocaust Museum Washington - Members of the Minnesota National Guard and the Air Force Reserve traveled to Washington D.C. with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (also known as the JCRC), to visit the Holocaust Museum, April 4, 2017, to honor the victims of the Holocaust. Also, traveling with this group were St. Paul and Minneapolis police officers along with students from various high schools around the state. For those in uniform that day, it was an opportunity to see, hear and experience the stories of victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

Each Service member who attended was asked to bring back a summary of their experience in the form of a presentation, professional discussion or briefing to their respective unit in order to help other Guard members better understand and remember that horrible event, to honor the courage of the victims and survivors, and to remain vigilant as members of the U.S. military.

"The honor and privilege of accompanying members of the Minnesota National Guard to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. met so many goals," said Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the JCRC. "I wanted to reinforce the importance of the commitment of the U.S. military to democracy. After all, it was the Allies that defeated Nazi Germany and ultimately put an end to the Holocaust."



Learning to instruct professionalism and discipline

Posted: 2017-04-19  02:15 PM
Funeral Honors CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - It was a challenging and rewarding two weeks for members attending the Army National Guard Funeral Honors Instructor Course, April 1-14, at Camp Ripley.

Soldiers of National Guard units from all over the United States took part in the course designed to educate team leaders in a variety of funeral honor detail tasks, traditions and responsibilities.

"It's a stressful course, but for our job, we have to be prepared to do our job under stress; and we all really benefitted from that," said Class Honor Grad, Sgt. Ryan Valline of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry.



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