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Minnesota National Guard
At Last! They're home

Finally, they're home After a mobilization in September 2005, throughout a six-month train-up in Camp Shelby, Miss, a scheduled 12 month deployment into the heart of Iraq which was extended by 120 days during the troop surge, fallen heroes, wounded Soldiers and the hardships of war "22 months later, the Minnesota-based 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division is finally home

Throughout their deployment, the 1/34th BCT Soldiers set the standard for theater security operations They worked with Marines, Sailors, Airmen, contractors and Iraqis to give the Iraqi people the opportunity for a better life Their successful operations were instrumental in apprehending insurgent and Al Qaeda operatives, while conducting extensive civil affairs projects, such as schools for Iraqi children and water purification for Iraqi villages

"You have set the standard," said 34th Infantry Division Commanding General Maj. Gen. Rick Erlandson to his returning troops "There wasn't a week that went by that I didn't receive e-mails from the highest echelons of the Pentagon, telling me about the excellent job that you Soldiers were doing over there"

Maj. Gen. Erlandson was echoing, no doubt, the reports from the Pentagon, but also the reports from commanders on the ground With Soldiers from 34 states, the 1st Brigade Combat Team wrote an important chapter in the history of the Red Bulls

"These men have risen their level to be as brutally efficient in a combat zone as any unit in Iraq today, or during the three tours that I've been here," said 2nd Marine Corps Expeditionary Force Commander Col George Bristol of one distinguished unit, the Crookston-based Co B, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry "They are, simply put, a company of heroes I am proud to have led them, served with them and bled with them"

Through the extended deployment, among other accomplishments, The Brigade Combat Team traveled more than 24 million convoy miles for missions, discovered 462 improvised explosive devices, captured more than 400 detainees, built seven reverse osmosis water purification plants and built 90 miles of road in the Dhi Qar region The 1/34th BCT also revolutionized the way roads were securely traveled, by employing Iraqi citizens to clean up and maintain roads, which became the equivalent of the "Adopt a Highway" program in the US

Of the 21 fatalities sustained by the 1/34th BCT, nine of the fallen heroes were from Minnesota Sgt Brent Koch, Sgt Kyle Miller, Staff Sgt Joshua Hanson, Sgt Bryan McDonough, Sgt Corey Rystad, Sgt Nicholas Turcotte, Sgt Maj Michael Metille, Staff Sgt James Wosika and Staff Sgt Greg Reiwer are the fallen Minnesota Soldiers certain to never be forgotten

As the planes landed at Volk Field, Wis, one after the other the Soldiers let their guard down for just a moment to take in everything around them Some laughed, some cried, some played a simple game of catch with an American football or rolled around in the grass they had almost forgotten They talked about how good temperature felt, they marveled at how green everything looked, they awed at how fragrant everything smelled

But in the end, they knew this was only a stepping stone on the road back to their families The Soldiers left to undergo their demobilization processing at Ft McCoy, Wis Following their demobilization, however, the journey back to their lives is not done The Soldiers went through training that is designed specifically to reintegrate them back into their home communities

But the training doesn't stop when the Soldiers get home Additional training and assistance continues with 30, 60, and 90-day reintegration training In addition, Soldiers will also have opportunity to attend marriage enrichment workshops or single service member retreats; state and federal support programs and VA medical, mental and emotional care for those who are in need

"The mission stressors change The stress doesn't go away, it just shifts around," said Capt Russell Bacon, 88th Regional Readiness Command about the change from the combat Soldier to the Citizen Soldier "You go from a culture of danger to a culture of relative safety One is limited, but very practical; the other is free, but with a lot of rules to go with it We take three to six months to train [Soldiers] to go to war, and when [they] come back, it's hours"

Throughout the demobilization process at Ft McCoy, Soldiers are given several briefings on how to handle these stressors in life This program, entitled "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" assists Soldiers in recovering their normal life It begins by teaching Soldiers about their Veterans Benefits and enrolls them in the VA, as well as give them a head-start in changing to that Citizen Soldier when they return home

This reintegration training is the first of its kind for Guard and Reserve units that don't have the constant military support that Active Duty components can provide Minnesota is modeling the behavior of what the program will look like for other states, nation-wide

For more information about the return of the 1/34th Brigade Combat Team and Reintegration training visit www.MinnesotaNationalGuard.org

By Cpl Joe Roos and Sgt Daryl Sanford, Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
20 July, 2007

July 23, HHB 1-125 Reunion, New Ulm

July 23, 1-125 Reunion, Fairmont

July 22, A 2-136 Infantry Reunion, Anoka

July 21, 2-136 Infantry Award Ceremony

July 21, C 2-135 Infantry Reunion, Owatonna

July 20, A 2-135 Infantry Reunion, West St. Paul

July 20, HHC 1-34 BTB Reunion, Bloomington

July 19, E 2-136 Infantry Reunion, Hutchinson

July 19, HHC 1-34 BSB Reunion, Brooklyn Park

July 18, 1/34 BCT Units are back

July 17, A Co. 1-34 BSB Reunion, Brooklyn Park

July 17, A Co. 1-34 BSB Reunion, Camp Ripley

July 16, C Co. 1-34 BSB Reunion, Cottage Grove

July 16, HHC 1-34 BCT Reunion, Bloomington

July 15, The next wave of returning troops land at Volk Field

July 11, Return of the 1st Brigade Combat Team

July 11, 1st Brigade Completes Mission in Iraq

July 10, Return of the 1st Brigade Combat Team

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Iowa Red Bull takes command of 34th Infantry Division

Posted: 2017-12-13  10:11 AM
Minnesota National Guard JOHNSTON, Iowa - Brig. Gen. Benjamin J. Corell, Deputy Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, assumed command of the 34th Infantry Division "Red Bulls" during a ceremony in Rosemount, Minnesota, on December 9, 2017.

Headquartered in Minnesota, the division has been commanded almost-exclusively by members of the Minnesota National Guard since 1968.

"Typically there's been very few people who have been allowed to command the 34th Infantry Division that didn't come from the state of Minnesota," Corell said.

Minnesota-based aviation unit honors storied division, enters into new, 'expeditionary' era

Posted: 2017-12-12  11:29 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade (ECAB), who recently celebrated a year full of achievements, have embraced a new name: Red Devils.

The St. Paul-based unit hosted its annual aviation brigade ball Dec. 9, at the Envision Event Center in Oakdale, Minnesota, where the unit's new logo was unveiled.

Soldiers of the 34th ECAB, which falls under and supports the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, will continue to wear the Red Bull insignia on their uniforms. However, they will now be known and referred to as the Red Devils, a name that pays homage to the division's historical accomplishments and fierce warfighting.

Minnesota Nice Extends to Puerto Rico

Posted: 2017-12-08  12:08 PM
Minnesota National Guard CAMP SANTIAGO, Puerto Rico - It has been more than two months since Hurricane Maria stuck Puerto Rico, leaving a trail of disaster behind it. The island was in dire need of some extra help. More than 230 Air National Guardsmen from 29 states have been deployed to the island and are helping in any way they can.

Eleven of those Airmen are from the Minnesota National Guard's 148th Fighter Wing out of Duluth, Minn. and the 133rd Airlift Wing out of St. Paul, Minn., are no exception in their desire to lend a helping hand. They have been at Camp Santiago, Puerto Rico, since before Thanksgiving and will leave around mid-December. Their mission is to feed military and civilian hurricane relief workers, giving them the much-needed fuel to complete their mission throughout the day.

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.

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