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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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Minnesota National Guard leaders visit traveling tribute in Austin

Posted: 2018-05-22  10:16 AM
Traveling Wall AUSTIN, Minn. - A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display May 16-20, in Austin and leaders of the 347th Regional Support Group took the opportunity to visit during the event's closing ceremony.

The display, dubbed the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, was hosted by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Austin and featured a near-replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be part of this humbling and moving tribute to our Vietnam veterans," said Col. Stephen Schemenauer. "The traveling Vietnam Wall is a powerful display, and this event provided an opportunity to meet, and thank, service members from WWII to present-day conflicts. Regardless of their branch of service, or the era or conflict in which they served, we all share a common bond."

Minnesota Aviators lead multi-state National Guard partnership for NTC rotation

Posted: 2018-05-21  03:51 PM
2-147 NTC FORT IRWIN, Calif. - The Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion is working together with aviation units from four different states to provide support to the Tennessee-based 278th Armored Calvary Regiment during a rotation at National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.

Making up Task Force Ragnar is Utah-based B Company, 1st Battalion, 211th Assault Reconnaissance Battalion; Nevada-based B Company, 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion; Michigan-based C Company, 3-238th GSAB; and Minnesota-based A, D, E and Headquarters Companies, 2-147th AHB and F Company, 1-189th GSAB.

"Early coordination with the units across four states combined with exceptional unit leadership and motivated Soldiers helped us to quickly build the task force when we closed on Fort Irwin," said Lt. Col. Kevin O'Brien, Task Force Commander. "I was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and teamwork of task force Soldiers. This was an outstanding training opportunity that challenged every Soldier to grow as individuals and units daily."

Deployed Minnesota Guardsman honors grandfather, Hmong heritage

Posted: 2018-05-17  09:57 AM
Brandon Xiong CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - "My heritage is Hmong," said 21 year-old Minnesota National Guard Spec. Brandon Xiong from his desk at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. "A low-key culture that originated from southern Asia. Hmong is not a place, but it is a people."

Xiong, the eldest grandson of the late Col. Song Leng Xiong, is deployed in Kuwait as an information technician for Area Support Group - Kuwait.

"We were not nomadic, but have been in many different conflicts," said Xiong. "Many places I go, I am questioned about my nationality and when answered, end up being even more confused. There is a movie called, "Gran Torino", where Clint Eastwood is introduced to the Hmong culture and I think it portrays the Hmong people not so terribly."

Month of the Military Child recognizes contributions of military kids

Posted: 2018-04-07  01:54 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the contributions and sacrifices military children make so their family members can serve. An estimated 15,000 children in Minnesota have been affected by the deployment of a parent.

"Military children bear a lot while their family members serve," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "It is up to us to support these resilient kids and help to lessen their burden."

An event to honor military kids in Minnesota will take place April 13, 2018, at the Mall of America rotunda from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Activities will include appearances by the Teddy Bear Band and meet and greets with Nickelodeon characters.

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