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Minnesota National Guard
Honor to the lost

Chris Ring Gold Star CAMP RIPLEY, Minn - A US Navy veteran on a mission to swim the Mississippi stopped at Camp Ripley Tuesday to meet with some of the families his trek aims to honor

"Gold Star" families have lost a member in military conflict The name comes from the gold star some display in their home, to symbolize the son or daughter who was killed Veteran Chris Ring plans to swim the entire length of the river in order to raise awareness for Gold Star families who lost loved ones in post-9/11 conflicts

On Tuesday, Ring and his support team from nonprofit Legacies Alive paused their journey for a press event with some of the Gold Star families from the nearby area Ring said his goal with the swim is to be able to walk up to any random person on the street, and have them know what a Gold Star family is Legacies Alive co-founder Mike Viti said the idea for the group came from conversations with Gold Star families, when he asked them to name a thing they needed help with

"The thing that most of them pointed to was,'The day that I fear the most is the day my loved one's name isn't said,' he said "Really, their legacy dies with the last memory"

By performing a feat as intense as swimming the Mississippi, Ring hopes to keep the plight of Gold Star families from being ignored, and to keep the memory of the fallen from fading away

"We can't bring them back," he said "But we can honor them"

After the press conference, the families told the waiting media about their loved ones who were killed, so that their stories might be heard by others

Bill Smith of Grey Eagle talked about his son Paul, who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions during the 2003 invasion of Iraq Paul Smith was a combat engineer when the unit he commanded came under attack near Saddam International Airport Paul took over a 50 caliber machine gun for another soldier who was wounded, and drove off dozens of enemy soldiers before being hit multiple times and then killed

Bill Smith said the men his son died for were like family to Paul He worked them hard, but he loved them

"He called them 'his boys,'" he said

Thomas McElveen from Little Falls talked about his son Anthony, a Marine killed by an improvised explosive device at Fallujah in Iraq McElveen is a Desert Storm veteran himself, but it was the anecdotes told by the men in Anthony's unit that helped him understand what his son's experience was like

"Listening to the stories from his buddies was what stunned me," he said

Anthony's friends told McElveen about how his son could lighten up even the most tense situation with a well-timed joke Once, he and his squad were creeping up on a suspected enemy position, unsure if they would be plunged into a firefight without warning Suddenly, Anthony shouted, "Quick, act like a bush!"

Despite his mischievous nature, Anthony was excellent at what he did The same kid who had a talent for spending time in the penalty box as a high school hockey player also received a commendation for capturing enemy combatants trying to set up an IED

Peg Manea's son Jonathan served in Iraq in Explosive Ordinance Disposal Peg said Jonathan was destined to work in EOD As a boy, he poured gasoline down the family driveway and lit it on fire as it flowed down the slope to see what would happen

Jonathan took his own life while home on leave Peg said she wanted her son to be remembered for his service and his love for family

"He loved being in the Army," she said

July 7, 2015
Zach Kayser, Brainerd Dispatch

ZACH KAYSER may be reached at 218-855-5860 or ZachKayser@brainerddispatch.com Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZWKayser

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Governor Mark Dayton installs new Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General

Posted: 2017-11-04  04:16 PM
TAG installation ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton administered the oath of office to Maj. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, installing him as the Minnesota National Guard's 31st Adjutant General during a ceremony in St. Paul, November 4, 2017.

"General Jensen has been a tremendous leader of the Minnesota National Guard throughout his years of dedicated service," said Governor Dayton. "He has served in two top leadership positions, as the Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, and also as the Chief of Staff at the Guard's Joint Force Headquarters. I am confident that he will continue to provide the same outstanding leadership as his predecessor, General Rick Nash."

Jensen most recently served as the Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. He previously held positions as Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Africa and Southern European Task Force, Minnesota National Guard Director of the Joint Staff and Minnesota National Guard Assistant Adjutant General - Army.

Guard Heritage Suffers with Loss of Artillery Unit

Posted: 2017-10-04  11:22 AM
ETAB ANOKA, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard lost one of its most historically significant units when the 151st Artillery's E Battery, (Target Acquisition) cased its colors in a ceremony at the Anoka High School Aug. 19, 2017.

The Target Acquisition Battery (ETAB), 151st Field Artillery is one of the oldest and most decorated units in the Minnesota National Guard and the 34th Infantry Division. "Both Minnesota and the Division lose the proud lineage that goes back to Civil War days, through WW1 and WW2, and had a significant amount of battle streamers," said 151st Field Artillery Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Patrick Cornwell.

The 151st Field Artillery draws its lineage from the 1st Regiment, Minnesota Heavy Artillery of 1864 which fought two major campaigns in Tennessee during the Civil War.

In one month: Minnesota Guardsmen support Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria

Posted: 2017-09-29  02:25 PM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - In the span of a few weeks, three major hurricanes hit different parts of the southern United States, causing widespread damage and destruction and requiring the response of agencies around the country. The Minnesota National Guard is one of the many organizations that have responded, sending Soldiers and Airmen to Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

"This is the most gratifying deployment of my career," said Capt. Jeremy Maxey with the 133rd Airlift Wing who was called back from his vacation early to go to the Virgin Islands. "It means a lot to be able to actually directly help people. It's why I serve. Throughout my career I've deployed numerous times, but this is the one where you actually see the people you serve."

The start of the month brought the first request for assistance. On Sept. 1, two CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 11 personnel from the St. Cloud-based B Company, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment left for Texas following Hurricane Harvey to transport personnel and equipment in support of response efforts.

Finding fellowship in the sacred mission

Posted: 2017-09-26  12:02 PM
Minnesota National Guard CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - One of the most difficult, most sacred, honorable duties in the military is one that people don't often think about. It takes compassion, empathy, care, and requires great resilience. It is one that when called upon to train for, they hope to rarely perform because it means another Soldier has been lost. It is the duty of casualty notification officer and casualty assistance officer.

About 45 Minnesota Army National Guard Soldiers came to Camp Ripley, Minnesota, on September 21-22, 2017, for a Reset Seminar to find fellowship in one specific thing they have in common: delivering the worst news in the Army.

When a Soldier dies at home or overseas, CNOs and CAOs must notify and help families through the process, including paperwork, benefits, and funeral arrangements.

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