News: Deploying Soldiers and families honored with steak lunch
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Blair Heusdens
ST. PAUL, Minn. – More than 200 Soldiers and families from the Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Combat Aviation Brigade Headquarters Company and 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion were honored, May 17, 2014, at the St. Paul River Centre prior to deploying to Kuwait.
Serving Our Troops, a Minnesota-based volunteer group, showed its gratitude to the deploying Soldiers and their families by providing them with a steak lunch. This event was the organization’s tenth event serving steaks for Soldiers overseas and stateside.
“Thank you, Serving our Troops, for exemplifying the Best of Minnesota,” said Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton.
While deployed, the Soldiers will conduct aviation operations and security cooperation activities as part of a task force of more than 1,200 Soldiers from the National Guard, Army reserve and active Army.
“We’ve had one or more aviation units from this state deployed to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bosnia, and even a deployment here in the United States every year since 2003,” said Col. Gregory Thingvold, 34th Combat Aviation Brigade commander. “For the past 12 years, we’ve been in a constant state of deploying or preparing units for return.”
The units recently completed two weeks of training at Camp Ripley, Minn., and will head to Fort Hood, Texas, in June for additional training prior to their departure for Kuwait. In addition to its several previous federal deployments, the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade regularly supports domestic response missions including wildfire suppression, flood response and search and rescue.
“Our track record of being an interchangeable, accessible, and highly professional, successful component of the total Army has been proven time and again,” said Thingvold.
Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, the adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard spoke about the unique qualities that National Guardsmen bring to this type of mission.
“You have something that many of our active component brothers and sisters do not possess, and that’s a practical knowledge and experience building relationships to achieve a common goal,” said Nash. “Just look at what the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade does in peacetime here in Minnesota, working side-by-side with local, county, state and federal officials to ensure the safety of our fellow citizens. They don’t teach that skill set during basic training. You learned it through being a citizen-Soldier and combining what you learned in your hometown connections with your families, your schools, your businesses, your faith and your community.”
Dayton praised the Soldiers for their service and dedication to the state and nation.
“You were raised to believe that heroic service is your responsibility as citizens of this great nation – whether it was convenient or not,” said Dayton. “And you answered this call to service. It is for this reason we your fellow citizens honor you, admire you and thank you.”
“Our country is free today; our country is strong today; our country exists today; because for almost two and a half centuries, men and women like you have answered that call,” said Dayton.