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Minnesota National Guard
Sleepy Eye troops serving in Iraq

In the field - The first in a new series of monthly reports from Sleepy Eye troops serving in Iraq Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch, 9/28/06
The 1-125 Strike battalion: who are they?

During a mission in Iraq, many levels of support are created for all missions to be a success For the 34th Infantry Division (Red Bulls) this proves strong and true throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom The 1-125 Strike battalion (headquartered in New Ulm) is no exception The 125th is currently stationed at Convoy Support Center (CSC) Scania, and will remain for approximately one year The Sleepy Eye area has a direct effect on the 125th and 34th, past and present

What do they do?

The 125th is an elite Field Artillery battalion, based around southern Minnesota As the battlefield changes, the 125th has needed to "adjust fire" in the new mission at hand The change was transformed by the motivation of the Soldiers and extensive training prior to entering theater of Iraq For most Soldiers, a new job was vital to fill these levels in the struggle for a successful mission These Soldiers meet new challenges first hand daily Fractions of a second require a decision with an indefinite outcome Every action is rehearsed and revamped many times before entering the battlefield The Soldiers are provided with the best equipment and training, providing all means to be successful in Iraq Never is any situation ever as it was rehearsed, but every Soldier needs to react without hesitation Due to the fighting conditions in Iraq, many times a junior leader is put in task to make these decisions At times this Soldier may not be old enough to legally drink, yet this troop makes a just decision and leads the way All training standards are to prepare troops for their first 30 days in theater After those first 30 days, Soldiers will have learned the skills needed to perform their duties

What about the folks back home?

Everyone back home provides "cover" while the Soldier carries out his or her mission The world does not stop due to a deployment Employers need to replace positions of the Soldier for a short period of time Parents take the role of being mother and father Spouses cover their fear with the pride of knowing what their loved one is doing Relationships are put on hold or ended due to the length of each deployment At times the difficulty of distance overcomes love Sometimes a Soldier gives up more then he or she anticipated With all the technology of communication, calling home is easier than in the past Soldiers are asked to not only keep their concentration on the mission, but also relations back home Communications are set up through telephone and Internet Letters and pictures replace special occasions which a Soldier will miss during his or her absence Operation Minnesota Nice was formed by people adopting a troop serving overseas Certain necessities that a Soldier may have trouble finding are sent once a month by these caring and proud people

What are the Soldiers' quarters like?

Most Soldiers occupy their own space of six feet by six feet, an area sometimes shared by two people To lessen the burden, each Soldier makes his or her area a little piece of home Pictures from home are displayed with pride Half-finished replies from letters written by school children, church groups, and local support organizations are found on each Soldier's note pad How a troop sets up his or her area is left only to the imagination of the troop Each person is given a bed and a wall locker From there we trade, build or scavenge supplies to improve our area Plywood and two-by-fours become trading goods An advantage for the National Guard is that every Soldier has the skills from his or her occupation back home, making carpenters a hot commodity A popular trend is to loft one's bunk to maximize space in an area Strung all along an individual's area you will find sheets, ponchos and similar dividers to provide some privacy Troops tend to acquire supplies and then pass them along the line Personally, my knowledge and access to welding equipment increases flexibility for building, depending on the materials For example, card tables can be produced from just about any piece of equipment

How often do the Soldiers get leave?

The current standard in combat is around 15 days for a year of service At this time all Soldiers are released to return home or get a vacation In this short period, birthdays, anniversaries and all other holidays are often celebrated It allows a Soldier to relax and remember what life looks, acts and feels like For myself, I vow the only battle I will acquire while I am home is on a lake (frozen or not)

What is the environment like?

When we first entered Iraq, the first reality was definitely the weather We must learn to carry out everyday missions with temperatures we are not accustomed to Due to new standards in the government, we are required to wear extra personnel armor and war fighting equipment An average Soldier carries 60 to 80 pounds of extra body armor, medical supplies, and vision equipment during every movement This is all in addition to carrying a weapon and its ammunition The heat plays a large factor in this extra equipment and clothing Not having this equipment is punishable by military justice This protection has well proven its durability in many cases on both the Soldier and all equipment

What are "battle buddies"?

Sometimes Soldiers become friends, not knowing each other's values as each individual Many times these people would scowl if they ever met in the real world, but in the military become friends, aka Battle Buddies As problems occur, we need to stick by our fellow troops; problems at home affect the lives of others in combat Stress becomes a major factor between both sides As this first article was written, the entire 34th reached the halfway point in its deployment Over these past six months in-country we have accomplished many goals We have also lost loved ones and brothers who have served beside us For those who gave the ultimate sacrifice we acknowledge their departure and remember them as we continue the struggle in all we believe and serve

By Spc Jeremy Reinarts, special to the Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch

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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.

148th Fighter Wing hosts STEM program for Duluth-area students

Posted: 2018-06-05  08:52 AM
Starbase Duluth DULUTH, Minn. - Dozens of community and industry leaders passionate about helping children become more engaged in science, technology, engineering and math gathered at the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, Minn., May 24, 2018, to see what STARBASE Minnesota Duluth is doing for young students in the area.

STARBASE is a Department of Defense youth program that engages students in STEM studies. The program began in 1991, and STARBASE Minnesota was founded in 1993 in St. Paul, which expanded to Duluth in July 2017.

Currently, the school program is open to fifth-grade students, said Charity S. Rupp, the director of STARBASE Minnesota Duluth. The summer camp will serve students in 4-6th grade. Eventually, she hopes the program will expand into STARBASE 2.0 to serve middle school students as an after school program during the academic school year.

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."

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