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CAMP RIPLEY, Minn- Throughout the history of the United States, African Americans and women have played a pivotal role in the success of the military Since 1776, when President George Washington lifted a ban on their enlistment into the Continental Army to fight against the British, African Americans have fought bravely for their freedom and the freedom of their fellow countrymen
Women have developed an increasingly larger role as time has passed from serving as nurses in the revolutionary war to being able to serve in combat roles today Warrant Officer Mary Touch, an electronic warfare officer for 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division stated women have proven to be just as important as their male counterparts
"Cultural diversity isn't going out on Monday nights for tacos and Friday nights for Chinese food, or watching a movie with Denzel Washington in it," 1st Lt Michael Griffis, the logistics planner for the 1/34th ABCT said "Cultural diversity is learning by sitting and spending time with members outside of what your ethnic group is"
To highlight cultural diversity, the Minnesota National Guard recognizes February as Black History month and March as Women's History month African Americans and women alike have played a significant role in every war and conflict in US history from the American Revolution to Afghanistan and Iraq
Diversity helps the Minnesota National Guard as an organization better itself in the sense that each individual brings with them their own background allowing different perspectives to be seen From the top leadership and down, Touch says there are steps being taken in the right direction towards diversity by recruiting both women and people of different ethnic backgrounds
"National Guardsmen and women, active Army and Service members across the board share the kinship that the uniform brings with it and that's the tie that binds us," said Griffis
The Minnesota National Guard provides a sense of brotherhood, family and camaraderie for its' Soldiers and Airmen, which allows them to look past each other's differences
"I can make an opportunity for myself on a level playing ground; I can serve as a mentor for not only young Soldiers of color, but any Soldier in general," continued Griffis "At every point in your career, whether civilian or military, we should be a seeker of knowledge from our mentor and pass that knowledge on to a mentee of our own"
The Minnesota National Guard has created a mentorship program where Soldiers can establish these relationships with other Soldiers to further their development and growth, not only professionally but also personally
"We can all learn together as we serve together," said Griffis
Minnesota National Guard Soldiers are able to further refine their skills, not only on their drill weekends but also on the civilian side This is a unique advantage that has allowed Griffis the freedom and flexibility to pursue his civilian education while serving his country
From one race and gender to the next, the Minnesota National Guard and the 1/34th ABCT will continue its efforts to maintain a diverse force within its ranks
February 17, 2015 by Spc William Boecker
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
Posted: 2017-03-10 08:50 AM 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.
Posted: 2017-03-08 03:29 PM 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.
Posted: 2017-02-22 09:59 AM 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."
Posted: 2017-02-21 01:25 PM 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."