/*********************************************** * Chrome CSS Drop Down Menu- (c) Dynamic Drive DHTML code library (www.dynamicdrive.com) * This notice MUST stay intact for legal use * Visit Dynamic Drive at http://www.dynamicdrive.com/ for full source code ***********************************************/
Minnesota National Guard
Duluth's 148th Fighter Wing has new leader

148FW CoC Clint Austin DULUTH, Minn. - With the handing-off of the 148th Fighter Wing's flag on Saturday, Col. Jon Safstrom has become the new wing commander.

The Duluth native assumed the leadership role from Col. Frank Stokes, who is leaving Duluth after leading the 148th for more than six years to become chief of current operations at the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va.

During Saturday's Change of Command Ceremony at the Minnesota Air National Guard base in Duluth, Stokes passed the flag of the 148th "Bulldogs" to Brig. Gen. David Hamlar, who then passed the flag to Safstrom, symbolizing the accepting of the command.

"They're the best of the best and I'm honored to serve with them," Hamlar said of Stokes and Safstrom.

After serving on active duty in the U.S. Navy, Safstrom returned to Duluth in 1998 and moved up through the ranks of the 148th. He has served as the 148th's vice wing commander since 2010.

He said after the ceremony that he's excited for the opportunity to lead the Duluth-based unit. He brings to the commander position both experience and the time he has spent getting to know the 148th's mission and its men and women, he said, and he understands the 148th's strengths and needs. The 148th is preparing for a deployment next year and it has the resilience to do so, he said.

"Our wing has an outstanding reputation. I'm excited to step in and let them run with it," he said after the ceremony.

Hamler said Safstrom is "the right man at the right time" for the 148th as someone who understands the Minnesota National Guard, in addition to having a long and distinguished career as a highly trained pilot.

During the ceremony, Safstrom told members of the 148th that he's humbled and honored to stand in front of them as their commander.

"You're the best our nation has to offer and your professionalism and dedication inspire me," he said.

The 148th is always ready to answer the nation's call, he said. It has the best resources, but it's the people of the 148th that perform the mission, he noted.

Stokes, who has been a part of the 148th since 1991 and its commander since 2009, said after the ceremony that his tenure highlights include receiving the prestigious Raytheon Trophy to recognize the work the 148th completed in 2008, as well as changing out the 148th's planes in 2010.

When assuming the command in 2009, Stokes asked the 148th to institutionalize its reputation for excellence -- and he said Saturday that the 148th has done a good job at completing that task. Stokes said Safstrom is more than ready to keep the 148th's reputation strong.

"Bulldogs, thanks for making me the most envied commander in the National Guard. You're going to do the same for Jon Safstrom. I look forward to reading about your future success and watching you continue to impress the leaders of our nation," he said.

Over the years, the 148th has gone from an obscure unit in the Midwest to one of the best because of its dedication and efforts, he said.

"You perform so well on deployments that commanders ask for you by name," he said.

Hamler wished Stokes success in his future endeavors as he has experienced in Duluth. Stokes "almost acted like a father of the wing," Hamler said. He added, "Remember your Minnesota home."

Hamlar began his speech by noting the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday that killed at least 129 people and injured more than 350.

"The terrorist attacks in Paris last night reaffirms why we're here," he said, adding that it reminds the 148th to remain steadfast.

November 14, 2015
Lisa Kaczke, Duluth News Tribune
Article source

Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

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.

Article archive