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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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Forging a path to career success

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."

Her college friend suggested they attend a summer training with the Reserve Officer Training Corps that had no obligation and could earn them some money. The friend never ended up going, but Steward-Randle did. After earning recognition as the top honor graduate and receiving an offer of a scholarship, she was hooked.

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."

Securing the Bold North: Minnesota National Guard supports Super Bowl LII

Posted: 2018-02-02  10:45 PM
Super Bowl 52 MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - More than 400 Minnesota National Guardsmen are supporting security efforts in Minneapolis ahead of Super Bowl 52.

"This is what we do," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "When the local community can't meet the public safety needs, they come to the Guard. We're their normal partner, we're a natural partner, and we're their preferred partner when it comes to filling in the gaps that they can't fill."

At the request of the city, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton authorized the Minnesota National Guard to provide support to security efforts leading up to and during Super Bowl 52. The Guardsmen are providing direct support to and working alongside law enforcement officers from across the state. Like their civilian law enforcement partners, Minnesota Guardsmen are focused on ensuring a safe experience for the residents and visitors who are attending the Super Bowl festivities.

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