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Minnesota National Guard
Sending our daughters and sons off to war

Foua Hang crossed one finger over another Tuesday in a crowded corner of the State Fairgrounds Coliseum

Then she whispered what was on the minds of hundreds of family members, as Gov Tim Pawlenty and Minnesota National Guard brass conducted a departure ceremony for nearly 300 members of an assault helicopter battalion heading to Iraq

"We're keeping our fingers crossed and we hope peace comes really soon," Hang said "We're a little bit sad, but we know she [Hang's sister] is doing something good for the country"

While more than 2,500 members of the Minnesota National Guard are scheduled to return this summer after extended duty, the St Paul-based 2nd Battalion of the 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion is heading east at great risk

More than 175 Americans have died in Iraq in helicopter crashes since the war began, including four Minnesotans

"Obviously, we are living in challenging and controversial times," Pawlenty told the departing troops "At great risk and great cost to your family, you have raised your hand and said you will serve this nation"

Across the cavernous coliseum Tuesday, Foua Hang's youngest sister, 23-year-old Jillian Marie Hang, stood in uniform and at attention

Jill Hang, the youngest of nine children in her family from Walnut Grove, Minn, signed up for the National Guard at 17 when she graduated from high school

She said she wanted to continue her father's legacy even though none of her siblings were interested in service

"My dad is a great influence on me," she said "When I was little, I always wanted to be like him Now I want to carry on what he did"

Yer Hang, 60, joined the army at 13 and climbed to the rank of captain while fighting alongside US troops in Laos from 1968 to 1974 during the Vietnam War He was shot in both legs, and his wounds made it too tough to make the three-hour drive from Walnut Grove to Tuesday's ceremony

But three generations of the Hang family were there to send off Jill, including sisters, nephews and her mother, Sheng Kue Hang As Foua translated her mother's Hmong, Sheng talked about how proud she was of her daughter serving her family's adopted country just as her husband had done a generation earlier

"My mom is worried, too, and we're all praying for the best for her," said Foua, 34

Dangerous mission

While all service in Iraq is fraught with danger, members of Hang's battalion face enhanced risks as they operate up to 30 Black Hawk combat choppers

A dozen Soldiers died Jan 20 when a Black Hawk was shot down by a shoulder-fired weapon in Diyala Since then, eight other US helicopters have had problems in Iraq At least 28 US Soldiers or civilian contractors on choppers have been killed since the start of the year

"I try not to worry about it," said Hang, a specialist who will clean weapons and handle supplies for the helicopters as they complete combat missions and transport goods, Soldiers and dignitaries

Hang recently passed her test to become a police officer, but that will have to wait at least a year "I'm just trying to stay positive," she said "That's the way to be -- positive I signed up for this, and this is what I've got to do"

The battalion, nearly one-quarter of whose members are women, will go Thursday to Fort Sill in Oklahoma for four to six months of training Then the Soldiers will spend a month in Kuwait before heading into Iraq

"Today is a day filled with the spectrum of emotions," Maj. Gen. Rick Erlandson told the send-off gathering "There are emotions of pride, expressions of patriotism and excitement and apprehension and sadness"

Not far away from where the extended Hang family sat, the Carpenter family of Almena, Wis, listened intently to the speeches

Stella Carpenter, 21, said she's looking forward to the new experiences she'll have in the Middle East Her father, Jerome Carpenter, was a staff sergeant in the Air Force from 1980 until 1992

As he bade farewell to his daughter, Jerome Carpenter prepared to do the same for his 18-year-old son, Roger, who has enlisted in the Army and will head to Kentucky in June for basic training

Their mother, Debbie Carpenter, smiled Despite the raging debate about pulling troops home, Debbie said that for her, one emotion supersedes all the rest

"Pride," she said "I can't control what Congress does I just want the best for the troops"

As the battalion heads off, though, Foua Hang can't help but see the similarities between her sister's war in Iraq and her father's war in Vietnam

"This is another war we weren't suppose to be in," Foua Hang said "We're kind of stuck, and we'll see what happens Until then, we will pray for our sister and know she's serving her country with pride"

Curt Brown "¢ 651-298-1542 "¢ curtbrown@startribune.com
April 11, 2007
Source: www.startribune.com



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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.



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