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Minnesota National Guard
Litchfield and Local Veteran Honor Gen. John Vessey at Armory Open House

Vessey Bust LITCHFIELD, Minn. -Bruce Cottington, a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea, donated a bronze bust of Gen. John W. Vessey, Jr. to the Litchfield National Guard unit during the armory's public open house event March 4. Cottington, a Litchfield resident, commands the Minnesota Chapter of the Veterans of Underage Military Service. VUMS members enlisted in the military prior to the minimum age requirement in order to serve their country during WWII. Cottington received the bust from Vessey, a fellow VUMS member. Both enlisted in the military at the age of 16.

The highlight of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion open house was the unveiling of the sculpture. The unit was very supportive when Cottington proposed donating the sculpture. The Litchfield community has always been very supportive of the National Guard over the years, so the open house was a chance to say 'thanks' to their neighbors. "This was a great opportunity to honor Bruce and to honor Gen. Vessey," said B Co., 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion Commander, Capt. Seth Goreham. Bravo Company also has a tight relationship with the local American Legion and VFW. Many Litchfield citizens are former members of Bravo Company, or the unit's predecessors A Co, 682nd Engineer Battalion, and the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company.

Cottington is a well-known supporter of veteran's organizations and Bravo Company. "Bruce has a very good relationship with our full-timer, Sgt. 1st Class McCann, and is constantly pushing for recognition and benefits for veterans of all branches, but specifically the Minnesota Army National Guard" said Goreham. Cottington is also very proud of the 34th Infantry Division and his brother Keith who was a Red Bull in WWII, serving alongside Vessey.

Cottington was a Navy Radioman 3rd Class in WWII where he served with the 4th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California and also volunteered for service in Korea.

Veterans of Underage Military Service represents all branches of the US military. There are an estimated 2,500 "VUMS" still living in the US. The organization's mission is to protect VUMS rights, enjoy their camaraderie, and preserve their history.

Cottington enjoys telling the story about Vessey addressing a military audience. Vessey asked all the enlisted members to stand up and to the officers he said "Gentlemen, here is my Army." "I thought that was fantastic," said Cottington, "There was a real man. He really got respect from the troops."

Vessey received a battlefield commission during the Battle of Anzio while serving in the 34th Infantry Division in World War II. He also served during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed him Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was the last four star general who was also a combat veteran of World War II on active service. When he retired in 1985 at the age of 63, Vessey was the longest-serving active duty member in the United States Army. He was laid to rest Sept. 1, 2016 near Camp Ripley next to his wife Avis.

The late Roger Brodin, of Brodin Studios, Kimball, Minn. created the GEN Vessey bust based on life studies of Vessey. Cottington and a 682nd Engineer Battalion family modeled for a Brodin sculpture installed at Fort Hood, Texas. Brodin Studios is currently working on a Red Bull Memorial statue for the planned Freedom Walk of America in Rosemount, Minnesota.

March 10, 2017
by Master Sgt. Daniel Ewer
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs


Further reading:

Serving his country at 16
http://www.crowrivermedia.com/independentreview/news/community/serving-his-country-at/article_35ca46a7-3b0b-56f3-80a6-83aee6c8ca04.html

Large military statue to be erected at Fort Hood has local ties
http://www.srperspective.com/2013/07/large-military-statue-to-be-erected-at-fort-hood-has-local-ties/

Cast in bronze: Minnesota residents serve as models for statues honoring veterans
http://www.dglobe.com/news/3897837-cast-bronze-minnesota-residents-serve-models-statues-honoring-veterans

Cottington named Legionnaire of the Year
http://www.crowrivermedia.com/cottington-named-legionnaire-of-the-year/article_f0b75c3c-b0be-5f92-be54-b0d1f8609107.html

'I'm proud of all of you veterans'
http://www.crowrivermedia.com/independentreview/news/i-m-proud-of-all-of-you-veterans/article_6f63b11a-7cce-5d00-9e9e-70b765bb24ef.html




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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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Posted: 2018-03-16  08:45 AM
Col. Angela Steward-Randle ST. PAUL, Minn. - Col. Angela Steward-Randle grew up in a military family - her father served in the Army on active duty - but it was a chance encounter with a friend at college that led her to want to make the military a career.

"My story is no different than many others," Steward-Randle, the Director of Human Resources, Manpower and Personnel for the Minnesota National Guard said. "I was in college and looking for financial resources to help pay for it."

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Minnesota Guardsman Receives Award for Combating Drugs in his Community

Posted: 2018-03-09  03:13 PM
Counterdrug WOODBURY, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Benjamin Kroll, an analyst with the Minnesota National Guard's Counterdrug Task Force who is assigned to work with the Hennepin County Sherriff's Office was recognized for his achievements as the Analyst of the Year during the 2018 Minnesota Association of Crime and Intelligence Analysts Training Symposium in Woodbury, Minnesota, March 7, 2018.

Through a partnership with Minnesota law enforcement agencies throughout the state, the Minnesota National Guard Counterdrug Task Force (MNCDTF) supports the anti-drug initiatives to counter all primary drug threats and vulnerabilities through the effective application of available assets, said Maj. Jon Dotterer, Counterdrug Coordinator for the State of Minnesota. The goal for the program is to support federal, state, tribal, and local agencies in the detection, disruption, interdiction, and curtailment of illicit drugs.

Kroll is one of sixteen service members on the Counterdrug Task Force that provides this force-multiplying service to our communities against illicit drug-use. With the information that law enforcement provide through their patrols and daily operations, Kroll and his colleagues across the state assist by putting together a figurative picture with all of the gathered information which aids in identifying how to move forward with legal action to deter or prevent the sale or use of illegal narcotic drugs.



Women Opened Doors in Minnesota National Guard

Posted: 2018-03-08  09:05 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - "The battlefront is no place for women to be," said Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Kurtzweg, 125th Field Artillery, in an article published in 1976. "There are certain jobs girls say they can do, but they just can't do ... the battlefront is no place for women to be. Other countries in the world use women in combat, but the U.S. has not come around to that way of thinking." Kathy Berg, a New Ulm reporter summarized at the time. "So women in the New Ulm unit take care of personnel files and pay records and leave the fighting to the men."

The Minnesota National Guard has "come around to that way of thinking" since those early days of gender integration. In the last 44 years women have made momentous strides toward inclusion and acceptance. Their accomplishments are testimony to their fortitude and the progressive development of the Minnesota National Guard.

When an accomplished female Soldier is credited with breaking barriers she will often pass that honor to the women that preceded her. Brig. Gen. Johanna Clyborne is such a leader. She acknowledges that she is one of the first females in the Minnesota National Guard who has held key leadership roles, however she sees it differently. "I feel responsible for all women in uniform," said Clyborne. "Women before me opened the door, now I've cleared the room. It's up to the women behind me to hold the room."



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