/*********************************************** * 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 ***********************************************/
History
Minnesota National Guard
From the Lakes of Minnesota to the Coast of Norway--NOREX 43 Trains By the Sea

NOREX 43 CAMP VERNES, Norway - The Minnesota National Guard's 43rd Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange came to a close on June 30, 2016, as more than 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard, along with one Danish soldier and one Swedish soldier, departed from Camp VA�rnes, Norway, to return to their respected home stations upon completion of a successful mission.

Though the exchange has historically conducted winter survival training in the mountains of Norway, this year's NOREX was the second summer program in the history of the exchange. The summer training offered a unique opportunity for members of the Minnesota National Guard to learn to live and survive in a coastal, maritime environment in Trondelag, Norway.

The Norwegian Home Guard was instrumental in providing top-notch training in a survival camp setting. The training consisted of constructing a "gapahuk" (lean-to shelter) out of wood and other resources, making fire with the use of magnesium sticks, bivouac skills, canoe familiarization and water rescue training, learning to catch and prepare a meal from local food sources in the sea--mainly fish, muscles, and crab - and familiarization with Norwegian field equipment.

Air Force Master Sgt. Kirk Suonvieri, a returning NOREX veteran from the 2010 exchange, shared his thoughts about training with the Norwegian Home Guard. "The thing that impressed me most is how the Norwegian senior officers are so humble and approachable. They give you great instruction that is well detailed, and then you do it and if you mess it up they're not shouting at you, they just show you," he explained. "Humility is an amazing thing because it humbles you, yourself."

In contrast, Army Spc. Yontonson Kesselly experienced many firsts during the summer exchange. Kesselly remarked that canoe familiarization and water rescue training was the most memorable event for him because it was his first time doing that kind of training. "I was afraid to go in the water at one point in time, but they found out I have a background from Africa, and that's a means of transportation in most of the remote spots in Africa so it was amazing to see myself doing that in Norway, and it was fun."

During the latter portion of the field exercise, the troops witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime sighting one evening while fishing of the Royal Yacht Norge, the vessel belonging to King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway. Both the King and Queen were aboard the Norge in connection with their official visit to Trondheim the next day. The troops waved to them as the Norge passed by, silhouetted by the glowing midnight sun. Someone aboard the Norge waved back to the troops--though it is unknown who--it made for an unforgettable moment.

Throughout the exchange, Soldiers and Airmen also participated in various team-building activities ranging from zip lining through the mountains of Trondelag, to competing in a platoon-level Fish Soup cooking contest while in a field environment, and hiking up Tonnol Mountain. Motivation and morale were high as the troops frequently shouted, "god stemning!" (good atmosphere) while engaged in the activities.

Army Spc. Christen Marchio reflected on her biggest take-away from the teambuilding activities. "It took teamwork to make sure everybody got up the mountain as safely as possible and got back down safely as well. It was nice to have that camaraderie and teamwork to accomplish something that was not as easy as it might have looked in the beginning."

Spc. Casey Giordano added, "Climbing up there, seeing the sheer drop to the fjords below was absolutely incredible. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat." When asked what advice he had for future NOREX troops he said, "Be sure to go out of your comfort zone because that's where all of the best experiences come from."

In addition to coastal survival training, the American contingent learned about Norwegian history and experienced Norwegian culture. Such opportunities were presented through buddy weekend, when American troops stayed with Norwegian host families for a weekend. Troops also visited several historical sites, including Austraat Fortress, Vaernes Church, Stiklestad, Kristiansten Fortress, and Nidaros Cathedral.

"It's a rich heritage and it's a very old countryside. Their buildings far surpass any historical items we have," said Maj. Jeramy Browning, NOREX officer-in-charge. "It's a very amazing experience."

There were also the traditional NOREX events: American Meal night--with food provided by Serving Our Troops and with this year's contingent dressed in motorcycle attire; Viking night--with everyone adorned in their potato sack Viking couture and Viking helmets as the platoons presented hand-made gifts to the Viking chieftain, competed in Viking games, and feasted on traditional Norwegian food; and the farewell banquet--where toasts were given to thank the Norwegian Home Guard for their hospitality, dedication, and continued friendship.

Much like the exchanges of years past, memories were made, bonds were strengthened, and life-long friendships were formed. And now as a way forward, alternating between summer and winter programs will continue to build upon these themes, further promoting military diversity, and will continue to present troops with exceptional military training and cultural opportunities in both host nations.

It is clear that what began as a handshake agreement many years ago continues to foster strong ties of community between our two nations that cannot be broken, even by distance.

"The strong connections and friendships, between people from Minnesota and Norway, we built in two weeks is awesome," said Major Gard Ommedal, Chief of the Rapid Reaction Force, Home Guard 12. "It's like hosting family, and family is always welcome."

As they say in Norway--it's not goodbye, it's "vi sees." (see you)

July 9, 2016
by Maj. Georgette Danczyk
133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs



Download best photos

Download all photos




Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

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.



Article archive
 
top