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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 Guardsmen learn survival skills, train with Norwegian counterparts

Posted: 2018-07-03  01:36 PM
NOREX 45 Over the course of 10 days, 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard who traveled to Norway June 17-26, 2018, for the 45th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange learned valuable survival skills and shared their knowledge with members of the Norwegian Home Guard. This year's exchange was the second to take place during the summer months in the history of the longest-running military partnership between two nations.

"It was a great experience for both the Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard," said Capt. 'Kiwi' HorgA�ien, the senior Norwegian instructor. "A cultural exchange, a social exchange and military exchange all packed into one."

The 45th exchange got off to a late start, with flight delays causing the trip to be shortened from its normal length of two weeks. The delay meant that the Minnesota Guardsmen jumped right into training, heading out to the field after just a few hours of sleep.

133rd Airlift Wing Emphasizes Combat Readiness Training

Posted: 2018-06-29  10:48 AM
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The exercise, tagged as Iron Ore, was designed test the Airmen abilities to set up operations at an unfamiliar location and receive in depth training on Ability-To-Survive and Operate (ATSO) principles while supporting airlift and aeromedical flight operations.

To ensure mission success and readiness, Airmen had to complete training at home station prior to leaving for Alpena. Some of this training included weapons qualification, gas mask fit testing, Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) familiarization, self-aid and buddy care and career field training.

Red Bulls Kickoff Division Warfighter

Posted: 2018-06-13  01:38 PM
DIV WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - "A Warfighter is an exercise that allows the Division to evaluate their ability to maneuver assets in a battle," said Master Sgt. Greg Weaver, the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. "It is designed to focus on particular areas and specific objectives to be evaluated or tested."

The Division has geared its' planning and training efforts in preparation for Warfighter since July 2017. Coordinating transportation for Soldiers and equipment was often on the mind of Maj. David Johansson, the logistics officer for the 34th ID. With the coordination of Johansson and his team, troops and equipment all converged on Camp Atterbury, enlisting the help of 89 railcars, 280 tractor-trailers, and nearly 50 buses for the movement.

"I like to say my job is to 'quiet the noise'". Johansson continued, "The noise being a real life logistical problem that could impede the exercise."

Minnesota-based aviation unit takes part in Warfighter Exercise

Posted: 2018-06-08  11:59 AM
34ECAB WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - More than 150 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade are here participating in a multi-echelon training event, Warfighter Exercise 18-5, May 30 to June 15.

The exercise, which is part live and part virtual, is testing the St. Paul, Minnesota-based aviation unit's ability to conduct operations and mission command in a high-intensity, complex operating environment. Soldiers are being challenged to take decisive action as they focus on air-ground operations -- or synchronizing and integrating aviation operations into the scheme of maneuver planned and conducted by forces on the ground.

In this case, the units on the ground are being commanded by the Rosemount, Minnesota-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, which is also participating in the exercise.

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