Saturday, March 28, 2009

Civic Leaders Visit - Ft Lewis, WA - 24Mar09

Monica Mead and I joined a number of military, governmental, and civic leaders on a trip to Ft Lewis on Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009. What a day!!!  

We accompanied members of government, military, and the public sector to spend the day with the Red Bulls as they are getting closer to deployment.
The concept for the visit was to provide an unclassified overview of the post mobilization process and Iraq mission.  We were separated into three groups - Government, Civic and Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Program which allowed them to focus on a specific set of objectives for each of the groups at select locations.

Arriving at the airport at 6am we saw many old friends such as Stan Kowalski, MG Jon Trost, JB Ball (Tee It Up For The Troops), Gov Pawlenty, and Paul Anderson (Gov Office).

After a briefing on flight safety we boarded the C-130 which fortunately had been fitted with standard airplane seats. No web seats for the 5 hour flight! LOL

Arriving at Ft Lewis we were met by the entire command of the 34th ID including our old friends CSM Scot Mills and CH Morris! 

They took us to a breakfast area where we got to mingle with many of the soldiers (AL DeKruif.. Jacobs say hi!) before they took us to an operational briefing. The briefing was enlightening in that 1) they are ready! and 2) it is a multi-force group with many branches being represented in this deployment.

We then broke into 3 different groups and toured the base area where they are living and training. The picture link better tells the story of how they are living than words can. We then had the opportunity to have lunch with the soldiers and to mingle with them to see how they are doing.

After lunch we went to the chapel for a town hall meeting with the Governor so the soldiers could ask any question they wanted to. The Governor was really animated in his explaining why he considers the MN Natl Guard the best in the country and how we wanted to help them receive the best treatment possible on their return. Immediately after that Chris "Cowboy" Kamp's Dad found Monica and I to express is amazement at being on the other side of the flag line. He could not say Thanks enough.

We mingled for a while longer before taking the bus back to the airbase for the flight home. Coolest part of the flight home was the opportunity to go in the cockpit and talk to the pilots while en route. Yow.. you don't get to do that every day! Getting back the Mpls at around 11pm made for a long but great day.

Things we learned
1. They are on track for their deployment
2. The spirits of the soldiers was good
3. The soldiers are worried about their families while they are gone and how to help them
4. Each soldier leaving the wire carries about 100 pounds of gear including body armor. They are coming home measurably shorter. I asked about the long term physical affects and there is no solid answer yet. I am afraid for the back and leg issues that will result in the future. Btw.. each soldier now has fitted body armor. Any reports that they don't are false.
5. There is a distinct divide in the soldiers not asking for assistance out of pride but yet wanting it. I won't break any confidences with anybody but all I will say that every time you have the chance to say "hi" to the family of a deployed soldier or help them with a favor... the word gets back to them and it matters. The reverse of that is fear for their safety or being preyed upon if anyone finds out they are alone.
6. News from home matters. We are going to build links to our web site and "News and Notes" area on the Red Bull site as well as link their site and newsletter to ours.
7. Care packages are appreciated. Please only send things they need or are specifically asked for. Example given was that while treats are nice.. beef jerky is better for the long hours in transit or stuck in traffic. We are going to try to get better information as to what is needed.

The MN Patriot Guard is making a difference and every minute you spend on a mission, every act of kindness you make, every smile or cheer you give is noted.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Some Notes of Thanks From Military Family Members

A few notes recognizing that Send Offs and MIRTS matter to the familes of our military....
Dear Patriot Guard-
We just wanted to thank you for braving the cold weather at 5 am this morning to see off the MN National Guard Band. Our son is part of that group and this is his first deployment. We appreciate your past and continued service to our country and troops. We look forward to meeting again with the safe return of other units.


Proud Parents
I wasn’t sure who to send this to, so Doug, you’re the lucky one! LOL!

This morning was my first time being on the “other side” of the flagline. What an awesome sight! Walking up through the flagline took on a whole new meaning… just the sight of everyone standing there that early in the morning at the Rosemount National Guard Armory (MN National Guard Band) brought tears to my eyes. The day was a new experience and quite a difficult one for me, sending my father off to serve in Iraq.

Now begins the harder part – waiting and praying that everything goes well for them. But it sure made things a little easier seeing all the Patriot Guard members there to show support!

Having been a PGR member for roughly 3 years, I’ve stood the flagline many times, and each and every time meant a lot, but as many PGR members know… being on the other side is a whole new experience. Being able to see from a family member’s perspective shed a whole new light on the meaning of the flagline, and the appreciation every PGR member has for the sacrifices made by the soldiers and the families.

I look forward to the welcome home, roughly a year from now when we can welcome these troops (and my dad) home with another flagline!

Please forward my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to everyone for braving the chilly and early morning to do this honor for my dad and all of the soldiers…


Chris “Cowboy” Kamp

I just wanted to send a thank you to the Patriot Guard Riders. I attended reintegration classes today for my husband who is currently serving overseas. I was nervous about what to expect as this is my first time having a loved one overseas. Lately, my emotions have been filled with a lot of anger over him being gone. When I pulled up to Century College this morning and saw the flags waving I had to do all I could to hold back the tears. It made me so proud to say my husband is a United States Marine. Thank you for what you do for our Veterans and their families. Your support means more than you can imagine.

Proud Wife
Wife of USMC Cpl

Friday, March 13, 2009

February Activities

Not really right after February but every month we will posting the activities from the month before. The membership all over this state is helping make a difference.

In March we have had many send offs already for the Red Bulls and more to come. Time after time what we hear from them is a very humbling "Thank You." They are scared and worried and knowing that you are behind them helps not just our soldiers but their families as well.

We are also building a strong relationship with the Marine Reserve stations here in MN and are looking forward to being invited to Send Offs and Welcome Homes for them in future! MGySgt Wald has been a good friend and supporter. Rah!

The Grand Rapids sector had its first KIA Honor Mission. RC Don Adamson and everybody helping out did a wonderful job honoring CWO Windorski and letting that family and community know we love and support them.

Thanks again for being part of what this organization does and helping make a difference to our military and veterans.

February 09

KIA/Active Duty Funeral - 1
Veterans Funeral - 3
Honor Mission - 1
Send Off - 5
Wounded Welcome Home - 1
Veterans Home Event - 3
Meet & Greet - 1
Monthly Tribute Mankato - 1
Information Booth- 2

Total Number To Date