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Deployed Guard Members Story - News On Deployed Troops This Story Contains Photos  - Contains Photos This Story Includes a Video  - Contains Videos

Red Arrow Soldiers return to Wisconsin
Two groups of Red Arrow Soldiers returned to Wisconsin last week after an 11-month deployment - one to Wisconsin's Joint Force Headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin, Jan. 22, and a smaller group to Dane County Regional Airport Jan. 24.

Twenty-seven Soldiers returned with the first group, while four returned with the second. Both were part of the 32nd Military Engagement Team and 32nd Base Defense Operations Center, which deployed to Kuwait and Jordan last February.

Waiting to greet them at both locations were flag-waving supporters, family members, senior National Guard leaders and fellow Soldiers and Airmen.
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Wisconsin National Guard receives public affairs awards
A public affairs specialist with the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing has received two awards in the National Guard Bureau Media Contest.

Senior Airman Andrea F. Rhode received a second place award in the Commentary category for a column on 9/11, and a third place award for a news article on collaborative emergency response training with the Wisconsin National Guard and civilian authorities.
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Wisconsin National Guard active locally, abroad in 2014
The National Guard's motto is "Always Ready, Always There" — and the Wisconsin National Guard lived up to that motto in 2014. Watch how the Soldiers and Airmen, men and women of the Wisconsin Army National Guard and Wisconsin Air National Guard put their training to the test last year.
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Wisconsin National Guard officer makes his mark on history
If a single picture can tell a thousand words, then more than 200 pictures should tell a pretty good story about the 177-year history of the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

Lt. Col. Eric Killen, a senior staff officer at Joint Force Headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin, put together that story when he published a 127-page pictorial history last fall of the Wisconsin Army National Guard that he hopes will spark more interest in the organization's history

"I have an interest in history and it struck me that not many of our young Soldiers know or appreciate our organization's history," Killen said. "They don't know anything about the 32nd Brigade, the Civil War or anything that we have done. It is through no fault of their own, because there is nothing out there."
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Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers one step closer to home

FORT HOOD, Texas — They're not all home yet, but 28 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers returned to the United States from the Middle East Jan. 13.

The Soldiers completed an 11-month deployment in specially formed units, the 32nd Military Engagement Team (MET) and the 32nd Base Defense Operations Center (BDOC). The 32nd MET developed relationships with up to 18 partner nations and militaries in and around Kuwait and Jordan. The 32nd BDOC assisted with the security, logistics and administration of camp operations in Kuwait.

"All Soldiers were in good spirits after a long flight," said Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Shields, the Wisconsin Army National Guard's senior enlisted advisor. He and Brig. Gen. Ken Koon, the assistant adjutant general for readiness and training, were on site at Fort Hood to greet the Soldiers as they arrived. "They all were very glad to be back in the U.S. and are looking forward to their welcome home to Wisconsin."
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Wisconsin Air Guard unit begins overseas deployment
The Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing is pulling double-duty for the next several weeks.

The Madison, Wisconsin-based unit continues to conduct its homeland defense mission, a round-the-clock responsibility. But as of Monday, 12 F-16 Fighting Falcon jets took off for Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan to support a Pacific Command Theater Security Package training mission.

"We're not going to a combat zone again, so this is a little different," Capt. Mike Koob, who is making his third deployment, said at last week's sendoff ceremony on base. "Leaving Wisconsin in the middle of January is pretty nice, too."
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Ceremony recalls first Red Arrow Soldier killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom
CAMP WILLIAMS, Wis. - In an auditorium inside the headquarters of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Soldiers, family members and friends gathered Jan. 10 to remember a fallen comrade, husband, father and community leader.

Staff Sgt. Todd Olson was a squad leader with Company C, 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment when he was wounded by an improvised explosive device during a foot patrol near Samarra, Iraq on Dec. 26, 2004. He died of his injuries the following day at an Army hospital in Tikrit, Iraq - the first Red Arrow Soldier and second Wisconsin National Guard Soldier to die in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

At 36, Olson was one of the older Soldiers in his company - some of the Soldiers he served with were only a few months removed from high school.
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Wisconsin Guard general officer selected for national role
Brig. Gen. John McCoy, a Wisconsin National Guard member for nearly 36 years, has been selected for a two-star position with the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

McCoy, currently the deputy adjutant general for civil support, is expected to begin his new job as Air National Guard assistant to the AETC commander in May. One of 10 major commands in the Air Force, AETC is responsible for training and education for the Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. This includes initial military training, officer training, technical training, pilot training and professional military education courses.

McCoy will advise and assist the AETC commander and staff on the impact policies and programs will have on the more than 106,000 Air National Guard members who make up 88 Flying Wings. He comes aboard as the AETC realigns its command headquarters to better support recruiting, flying and technical training, and education.
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Wisconsin National Guard supports inauguration ceremony
MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin National Guard continued a tradition dating back to the 19th century by supporting the governor's Jan. 5 inauguration ceremony.

In the closing days of 1881, Edwin Bryant, Wisconsin's adjutant general, ordered four companies — the Oshkosh Rifles, Fond du Lac Guard, South Side Turner Rifles, and the Burchard Guard — to rendezvous at Madison on Jan. 2, 1882 "for the purpose of being present at the inauguration of the governor and state officers elect."

While Gov. Jeremiah Rusk enjoyed a robust military display for his inauguration more than 130 years ago, this year's ceremony for Gov. Scott Walker was much more low-key, with a color guard and the 132nd Army Band performing select works.
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Wisconsin Air Guard's 115th Fighter Wing prepares for Pacific Command deployment
MADISON, Wis. — Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wisconsin, are scheduled to deploy this month in support of the Pacific Command (PACOM) Theater Security Package (TSP).

Approximately 250 personnel and 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons will fall under the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. The TSP deployment is designed to provide the PACOM region with forces capable of a variety of operations, including disaster relief, global situational awareness, combating piracy, active defense and power projection.

According to Lt. Col. Jon Kalberer, 176th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander and the TSP deployment commander, the primary mission of this deployment is to solidify relationships with international partners and deepen ties with our allies. This deployment also provides the 176th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron an opportunity to train and work in a variety of diverse environments which increases our combat capability and readiness.
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@ease Winter 2014
From preparing for emergencies at home to raising awareness of dangers in cyberspace, from Miller Park to Lambeau Field, from exhibits at the nation's capital to relocating military displays in Wisconsin, from females succeeding in Sapper units to an Airman who is a stay-at-home dad, and from Afghanistan back to Wisconsin, find out what's happening in the Wisconsin National Guard in the latest issue of @ease!
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Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers home for Christmas
Twenty-two Soldiers of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team arrived at Fort Hood, Texas Dec. 17 after being deployed to Kuwait as a part of the Base Defense Operations Center (BDOC) — and 21 of those Soldiers arrived in Madison, Wisconsin Dec. 20 to waiting families and friends.

Maj. John Brosius, BDOC commander, remained behind at Fort Hood to finish up demobilization administrative details while the rest of the returning Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers went ahead to Wisconsin.

Brosius said his Soldiers spent the last nine months overseas augmenting the Area Support Group and the U.S. Army missions in Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve.

"There were a lot of opportunities to grow as individuals in areas that we weren't always comfortable with," he said.
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Challenge Academy cadets graduate from 'at-risk' to confidence
MAUSTON, Wis. - The 33rd class of the Wisconsin National Guard's Challenge Academy celebrated its graduation at Mauston High School Dec. 20.

A testament to the "challenge" aspect of Challenge Academy, 107 of the 169 at-risk teenagers - 63 percent - who began the course July 24 walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

The Challenge Academy is designed to help troubled youth get back on the road to success. They are placed in a military environment and given leadership opportunities to instill discipline.

The transition is difficult for the cadets, but as distinguished honor graduate Cadet Ernesto Green said during the graduation ceremony, "The one thing that helped us all succeed at the academy was being resilient."
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Governor, Adjutant General offer Christmas greeting for troops
Madison - Governor Scott Walker and Major General Donald Dunbar, Adjutant General of the Wisconsin National Guard, released the following video message to troops serving the country this holiday season, and to those who have served in the past.

To view the video, click here or go to http://vimeo.com/115010204. You can also view the video on Governor Walker's website at http://walker.wi.gov.
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Small Wisconsin Army Guard unit returns from Afghanistan
MADISON, Wis. — In Afghanistan, their job was to safely ferry very important people — brigadier generals and higher — across an austere landscape in a small airplane.

But for the families and friends gathered Dec. 16 at a hangar in Madison, Wisconsin, each of the seven members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Detachment 52 returning from a nine-month deployment was a VIP.

"It feels good to be back home," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Alan Massman, one of six C26 two-engine airplane pilots.

The pilots already had more than 50,000 flying hours between them, and tallied an additional 950 flying hours during their deployment. They flew more than 260 distinguished visitor operations missions, carrying NATO dignitaries from more than 14 different nations to destinations in Afghanistan and surrounding countries in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
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An early return for part of Wisconsin National Guard artillery unit
MILWAUKEE — Emotions ran high Dec. 13 as families began to gather in the Milwaukee Room at General Mitchell International Airport. Melissa Kluka was one of the first to arrive at the airport, anxiously awaiting the arrival of her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Kluka.

As Kluka's wife waited alongside their daughter, Mya, she grabbed an extra pack of tissues and a bottle of water. She waited for about 10 minutes before walking over to the concourse gate to wait there, almost 45 minutes before her husband's flight was scheduled to land.

"I'm excited to be on vacation," Melissa Kluka said. "We're not going anywhere, but I took time off. From here, we're going to go surprise his other two children, my step-children."
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Wisconsin Air Guard marks 30 years of 'North Pole' rendezvous
MILWAUKEE — Elves lined the hallway as families arrived Dec. 13 to pick up their Santa Liner boarding passes. Christmas music played in the background and tinsel and lights draped the ceilings. As the children rounded the corner to the small air terminal, smiles beamed across their faces — Mrs. Claus was waiting for them. These children were about to take a ride of their lives to the North Pole.

The 128th Air Refueling Wing hosted the 30th annual Flight to the North Pole, an event for children battling life-threatening illnesses to take a special ride to the North Pole.

Twenty-one families of children who are patients at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, came to the 128th Air Refueling Wing to take their child on a magical ride aboard a KC-135R Stratotanker. Pilots with the 128th taxied them around the General Mitchell airfield to a hangar that was specially decorated as the North Pole.
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Ceremony celebrates successful completion of Afghanistan mission
VOLK FIELD, Wis. — Wind, snow and freezing rain couldn't douse the warm welcome families and friends gave the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 829th Engineer Company Monday afternoon.

"This is the best weather I've seen in nine months," said Pvt. 2nd Class Hayden Panzer, a plumber with the 829th, as he walked from the passenger jet to the hangar where dozens of families eagerly awaited their Soldiers. His family was unable to make it to the welcome home ceremony, but visiting them was on top of his agenda after the ceremony.

"It will be real good to see them again, I'll tell you what," Panzer said.

The 829th, a vertical engineer company headquartered in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, with detachments in Ashland and Richland Center, normally erects buildings. However, the unit deployed to Afghanistan earlier this year tasked with an atypical mission.
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National Guard armory showcases renovation, dedicates memorial
PORTAGE, Wis. — The public had the opportunity to honor a special part of the past of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 132nd Brigade Support Battalion headquarters, and see new training accommodations, during an open house Dec. 6 at the unit armory.

Visitors could stop at various displays explaining the storied history of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and see current equipment the unit uses to conduct its mission.

Capt. Craig Giese, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion training officer, explained that the armory had recently completed a year-long $6 million renovation that added new offices as well as more storage and training space.

"Now we finally have the opportunity to open it up to the public and show everybody what's going on here," he said.
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Wisconsin National Guard Soldier recognized for heroism
Sgt. Michael C. Black, a combat medic in the Wisconsin Army National Guard from Brookfield, Wisconsin, was awarded the Soldier's Medal for providing lifesaving medical care to a young mother involved in a serious auto accident. He is one of three currently serving Wisconsin National Guard members to be awarded this medal.

The Soldier's Medal is approved by the President of the United States and is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who distinguish themselves by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy.

On Jan. 5, 2013, Black and two other Soldiers from the Plymouth, Wisconsin-based Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery were conducting pre-deployment training near White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico when they came across the scene of a single-vehicle accident.
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Wisconsin National Guard members in female veteran exhibit
Three of the 90 women featured in the exhibit "In a Heartbeat" at Arlington National Cemetery's Women in Military Service for America Memorial have Wisconsin National Guard connections.

Col. Joane Mathews, chief of staff for the Wisconsin Army National Guard, Staff Sgt. Sonia Buchanan with the Wisconsin Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion, and Carolyn Morgan, a former Wisconsin Air National Guard technical sergeant and former Service Member Support Division member, each have black-and-white photos and a short personal message on display at the exhibit, which runs through September 2015.

Morgan came across photojournalist Therese Hughes online when she worked as a women veteran outreach coordinator with the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. After an initial conversation, Morgan invited Hughes to visit Wisconsin.

"Women veterans' stories, historically, haven't been told," Morgan said. "I thought it was time that we as Wisconsinite women veterans - over 38,000 of us - needed to start getting our stories out there. When I met Therese I thought it was perfect. We have some remarkable women that live here in Wisconsin."
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Group of Wisconsin Guard artillerymen return to US
Approximately 40 Soldiers from Sussex, Wisconsin-based Battery A, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, landed safely in the United States Dec. 2. The group represents approximately half of the nearly 80-Soldier unit that originally deployed to Afghanistan in the spring.

The remainder of the unit will remain in Afghanistan and continue providing high-mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) fire support until a later date to be determined.

The contingent of Battery A landed at Fort Bliss, Texas, where they were greeted by senior leaders from the Wisconsin Army National Guard. The Soldiers will begin their demobilization process at Fort Bliss before returning to Wisconsin in the coming weeks.
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Sister Air Guard units have icy relationship — in the rink
The Milwaukee-based 128th Air Refueling Wing and the Madison, Wisconsin-based 115th Fighter Wing essentially comprise two-thirds of the Wisconsin Air National Guard. The two units often train together — the 128th's KC-135 refuelers frequently refuel the 115th's F-16 fighter jets, but they also team up on other state projects and missions.

But that cooperation cools off inside a hockey rink.

Both the 128th Air Refueling Wing and the 115th Fighter Wing fielded teams in the Armed Services Hockey Association, an organization of volunteer teams made up of military, police and fire fighters from the U.S. and Canada. Members pay their own team fees, as well as travel and equipment costs. Since 2003 the Armed Services Hockey Association has held annual tournaments in Las Vegas, with proceeds benefitting the United Services Organization (USO), Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) program, and Defending the Blue Line.

This year's tournament, featuring 30 teams in five divisions, was held Nov. 6-10.
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Engineers ready to clear the way
Every time the Soldiers of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 950th Engineer Company go out on a mission, they know they are saving lives.

The route clearance company from Superior, Wisconsin, which is in the final phase of its pre-mobilization training at Fort Bliss, Texas, is one of just a handful of units within the Army specifically designed to combat the threat posed by improvised explosive devices. Secure roadways and infrastructure are key to the international coalition's military efforts in Afghanistan. They are also vital corridors for Afghan civilians trying to go about their daily lives.

Enter the 950th, which with every bomb, IED or other threat that it identifies, will make the roads of Afghanistan a safer place.

"There's not a whole lot of missions in the Army that you can really say this, but every time you go out, no matter what, when you find those bombs you're saving somebody's life - be it friendly, a civilian or coalition," said Capt. Andrew Redd, the unit's commander. "And I just feel good about that as a person. If nothing else, when I'm old, I'll look back and say, ‘I found X number of bombs.' And who knows, maybe that guy is the future of our world. So I feel good about our mission."
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829th Engineer Company back on U.S. soil
Soldiers and family members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 829th Engineer Company have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving as the unit landed safely on U.S. soil Nov. 25 after a six-month deployment to Afghanistan.

The 160-Soldier unit returned to Fort Bliss, Texas, where it will go through the de-mobilization process before returning to Wisconsin.

"It was a wonderful feeling," said Staff Sgt. Nicole Pingel, of Ashland, Wisconsin. "It really was. Just to walk off that plane is one of those feelings…it's awesome."

The unit, headquartered out of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, left the Badger State in early April before mobilizing at Fort Bliss enroute to Afghanistan.
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Tribute tree stands for service members who won't be home for Christmas
In military parlance, decorations typically refer to military medals and awards worn on the uniform, representing honorable achievement.

In much the same way, the hand-made decorations that adorn the Tribute to Our Troops tree at the Executive Residence honor the service of deployed Wisconsin service members, as well as the memory of Wisconsin service members who have died.

The Tribute to Our Troops tree dates back at least a decade as a means to remember Wisconsin residents who could not spend the holidays at home due to military service. Wisconsin National Guard members — first through the Family Assistance Program, and then through the Service Member Support Division — decorated the tree in time for holiday tours at the Executive Residence.

"This is great," said Master Sgt. Kim Hahn, a member of the 115th Fighter Wing's Force Support Squadron, who was decorating the Tribute to Our Troops tree Nov. 18 for the first time. "I love that the military tree is the first tree that you see when you walk in" the Executive Residence.
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Wisconsin National Guard, state agencies work on unified emergency response
VOLK FIELD, Wis. — Thirty-two military personnel and 23 civilians, all from the state of Wisconsin, joined together for three days of unified reception, staging, onward movement and integration training and exercises at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, Nov. 17-19.

The three-day training and exercise event was designed to test the knowledge and response capabilities of all personnel involved, should an emergency situation arise in the state. Development of the URSOI process integrates state agencies and the National Guard during state emergencies and allows them to work together efficiently.

"We are pioneering an enhanced set of processes for uniformly bringing military and civilian responders to an incident site in order to make the response efforts more integrated," said Mark Greenwood, Wisconsin Emergency Management response supervisor.
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Guard Ebola response team trains at Volk Field
Two hand-selected teams of Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers and Airmen trained at Volk Field, Wisconsin, Oct. 30-Nov. 2 to respond in the event of an Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in the state.

The teams, known as Joint Healthcare Assistance Teams, could augment hospitals and medical professionals if the virus were to surface in Wisconsin. The National Guard will train and prepare a third JHAT Dec. 10.

Made up of Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard nurses, physicians' assistants, doctors and medical liaison personnel, the teams trained at the state's Regional Emergency All-Climate Training Center at Volk Field, where officials from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services validated their training. The partnerships between the National Guard and other state agencies have been crucial to preparing the teams.
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Family members score fields-eye view of deployed Guard members at Lambeau Field
GREEN BAY, Wis. - For 10 family members of deployed Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers, it may have been the next best thing to being there.

Standing on Lambeau Field, home of the National Football League's Green Bay Packers, the family members saw their loved ones on the stadium jumbotron screens, sending a live videoconference from Afghanistan as part of the Packers' "Salute to Service" game Nov. 9.

"Hey, Packers fans," said Spc. Alex Wotachek of Battery A, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery. "We cheeseheads are here cheering on the Packers tonight from half a world away."
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Ornaments requested for holiday tree honoring Wisconsin troops
Gov. Scott Walker and first lady Tonette Walker invite family members of Wisconsin's service members - past and present, home and away - to send a holiday ornament dedicated to their loved one for this year's "Tribute to our Troops" holiday tree.

The ornaments will be displayed on one of the large evergreen trees in the executive residence during December's holiday tours. The ornaments can be plain or fancy, as well as personalized.

The governor and first lady are encouraging as many families as possible of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard members to take part in the event.

To be included as part of this year's "Tribute to our Troops" tree, ornaments must be received no later than Nov. 17 at:

Wisconsin National Guard Service Member Support Division

ATTN: Master Sgt. Deborah Severson

2400 Wright Street

Madison, Wis., 53704

Ornaments will not be returned.
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951st transition to Red Arrow signals changes in Wisconsin Army Guard

When the Soldiers of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 951st Engineer Company participated in a patching ceremony Sept. 28 at both the Tomahawk and Rhinelander Army National Guard armories to receive the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team's distinctive Red Arrow unit patch, it marked the beginning of a transformation in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

The unit, formerly part of the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade's 724th Engineer Battalion, received the Red Arrow patch as a part of the ongoing Army-directed reorganization of units in the Wisconsin National Guard.

Other units in the Wisconsin Army National Guard affected by the reorganization are beginning their transitions as well, but one of the most noticeable changes will manifest in the formation of the 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, which will now fall under the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The 173rd will replace the 32nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, and what was once the 951st Engineer Company will now be known as Company A of the 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion.
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State's second female Sapper near top of her class
A Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldier joined elite company when she graduated as the runner-up honor graduate at the Army's Sapper leader course. She became just the second female in the state to complete the grueling course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and the 66th nationwide.

2nd Lt. Kayla Krueger, currently assigned to the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 229th Engineer Company, was the lone female in her class that began with 40 Soldiers. She graduated second in her class in August with just 13 others when the course concluded 28 days later.

The Army's Sapper Leader Course is one of the Army's most demanding courses, and it's the pinnacle of achievement for an Army combat engineer. It tests Soldiers on small-unit tactics, leadership, demolitions, mountaineering and weaponry, but perhaps more importantly, it tests Soldiers' mental and physical abilities to the limits.
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Red Arrow to partner with active duty brigade for training
The Wisconsin Army National Guard's 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team will partner with an active duty brigade combat team to share knowledge, tactics and best practices as part of an Army initiative to build collaboration between the National Guard and its active duty counterparts.

Called the Total Force Partnership Program, each active duty brigade combat team will be paired with a sister National Guard brigade combat team. Wisconsin's Red Arrow will be paired with the Army's Third Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

Leadership from both brigades met at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, over the summer and agreed to start small and begin working toward larger objectives and collaborations, according to Col. Mike Rand, the commander of the 32nd.

Rand believes that both units stand to learn a great deal from one another and share lessons learned from deployments, in training and in day-to-day operations.
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Wisconsin Army National Guard a finalist for Army Communities of Excellence award
Excellence doesn't just happen. It requires continuous improvement, self-assessment and a commitment to being the best.

That mentality has resulted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard being named a finalist in the annual Army Communities of Excellence competition.

Wisconsin is one of four finalists to receive a site visit from a team of evaluators sent by the National Guard Bureau from around the country. The team will evaluate the Wisconsin Army National Guard's leadership, strategic planning, operations and customer focus among other criteria when it visits the state Nov. 2-7.
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Wisconsin Army Guard units recognized for silver platter achievements

The proof was in the pudding, so to speak, regarding the culinary skills of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Headquarters Company, 257th Brigade Support Battalion food service section. But now the best mess section in the Army National Guard - and second best in the reserve component - has the hardware to show for it.

Unit representatives were on hand to receive a plaque, engraved with their achievement in the 2013 Department of the Army Philip A. Connelly Awards Program, during an Oct. 18 ceremony in Daley Hall in the Wisconsin Military Academy, Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
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State's most diverse battalion builds cohesion with rare consolidated training
Seven companies from the Wisconsin Army National Guard's most diverse battalion came together at Volk Field in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, for a rare weekend of combined training Oct. 17-19.

On the surface, the 641st Troop Command Battalion is made up of individual units with seemingly little connection. The battalion includes units like the 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, the 135th Medical Company, the 273rd Engineer Company, the 132nd Army Band, the 457th Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Company, the 1967th Contingency Contracting Team and its battalion headquarters company.
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'Model of leadership' inducted into Wisconsin Military Academy Hall of Fame
FORT MCCOY, Wis. - Retired Master Sgt. David Voght spent the final seven years of his 30-year military career at the Wisconsin Military Academy as an instructor and staff noncommissioned officer. The positive impact he made during that time was recognized Oct. 11 when he was inducted into the Wisconsin Military Academy Hall of Fame.

"Our tradition of excellence continues, and to meet our continuing requirements we ask for an enormous amount of dedication and commitment from our staff," explained Col. Gregory Hirsch, commander of the 426th Regiment Regional Training Institute, which is located in the Wisconsin Military Academy. "The staff must be the very best of the best, as they always have been. That is why the single most important criteria to be inducted into the Wisconsin Military Academy Hall of Fame is the contribution the individual has made to the training environment."

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Strathmann, himself a Hall of Fame inductee in 2009, was Voght's first sergeant and command sergeant major when they both were part of the now-defunct 1st Battalion, 632nd Armor Regiment, and also at the Wisconsin Military Academy.
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Community salutes 950th Engineer Company at sendoff ceremony
SUPERIOR, Wis. - While U.S. operations in Afghanistan are changing - military bases are closing, fewer troops will deploy there in the future, and Operation Enduring Freedom will transition to Operation Resolute Support - the need to keep traffic routes clear of roadside bombs has not changed.

That important job will soon fall to the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 950th Engineer Company, which will head to Fort Bliss, Texas for several weeks of pre-deployment training before they hit the roads in eastern Afghanistan.

"Every time we do our mission and we find one of those devices on the roads, we make the world a little safer for other humans," Capt. Andrew Redd, the 950th Engineer Company's commander, told family and friends at an Oct. 15 sendoff ceremony at Superior Middle School. "Whatever country we're deployed to, our mission directly impacts and saves lives, and it's why I'm proud to put this uniform on every day. I look forward to getting over there and doing my part."
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Wisconsin Army National Guard commissions new officers
FORT MCCOY, Wis. - While the new class of second lieutenants and warrant officers formed a relatively short line as they filed in for their commissioning ceremony Oct. 11, the Wisconsin National Guard's senior officer extended that line back to Concord and Lexington nearly 230 years ago, and the shot heard 'round the world.

"You are part of the great heritage, the great legacy," Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general, said to the 21 officer candidates and warrant officer candidates in attendance. "The good news is, you've finished, and you've earned this commission. The better news is, you're just getting started.

"The best news is that each and every one of you has earned a commission in this organization - the Wisconsin Army National Guard, the United States Army," he continued.
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Jet disassembly, relocation provides rare Air Guard training opportunity
Approximately six months ago, the topic was brought up: Could the 115th Fighter Wing help a local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8483 move an F-4S Phantom II static display from Indiana to Wisconsin?

"I had been working hand-in-hand with [115th Fighter Wing maintenance group commander] Col. Donald Hamilton to see how we could put this together and how we could pull it off," said Senior Master Sgt. Dave Dahlke, 115th Fighter Wing maintenance squadron structures. "Then it came to me - we could use it as a training exercise."

Dahlke focused on the training piece from a crash recovery team standpoint.
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Wisconsin Air Guard engineers help renovate veteran haven
More than 30 U.S. Airmen with the civil engineering squadron of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, completed hands-on annual training while gutting and renovating a cabin that belongs to Camp American Legion in Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin Sept. 13-27.

Camp American Legion, owned and operated by the American Legion of Wisconsin, is a haven in the northern woods for Wisconsin veterans and their families to reintegrate, relax and recuperate.

The 128th Civil Engineering Squadron (CES) has a base engineer emergency force team - known in the Air Force as Prime BEEF - whose mission is to provide engineering support in order to construct and maintain fully-functional bases in deployed locations, or to recover bases damaged by natural or man-made causes.
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Summit emphasizes 'cyber hygiene' to protect data networks
Cyber crimes in the news recently have included the electronic looting of credit card information from large retail chains, and posting explicit or compromising celebrity photos lifted from supposedly secure accounts.

But cyber criminals are capable of acts rising to the level of terrorism, according to a panel of experts who spoke at the second annual Wisconsin Cyber Security Summit, held Oct. 8 at Marquette University in downtown Milwaukee.

"When you think about all the threats to our society ... it's not just threats from abroad," said Gov. Scott Walker, noting that successful cyber attacks on government agencies and private enterprises such as power generating plants, financial institutions and communication networks could seriously disrupt daily life. "I don't think any of us shouldn't think that a terrorist wouldn't shift gears. We have to be vigilant every day of the year."
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Citizen Airmen combine military, civilian expertise to maintain critical air traffic control
VOLK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Wis. - Citizen Airmen are spread throughout our community. They work as fire fighters, policemen, accountants, teachers and administrators. They are prepared to deploy at a moment's notice, and their training provides them with valuable tools they can use in their everyday lives.

When a fire struck the Chicago Air Traffic Control Center on Sept. 26, Air National Guard air traffic control Airmen from Volk Field Air National Guard Base in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, were called into action.

"It was about 6:30 in the morning and we were getting ready to open the tower here but we couldn't get a hold of the Chicago Center," said Chief Master Sgt. Wayne "Buck" Reynolds, Combat Readiness Training Center air traffic manager.
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Deploying unit preparing for route clearance mission in Afghanistan
The Wisconsin Army National Guard's 950th Engineer Clearance Company spent the first part of October at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, preparing for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

The Superior, Wisconsin-based unit will head to Fort Bliss, Texas, in the coming weeks for its final pre-mobilization train-up before heading to Afghanistan to take on a critical mission there - route clearance. In the meantime, the nearly 100-Soldier unit has been at Fort McCoy honing its Soldier skills and prepping for the mission to come.

The unit spent time at Camp Ripley, Minnesota, and Fort McCoy over the past several months training with its route clearance equipment and learning from subject-matter experts on some of the finer, more technical aspects of its route clearance mission. The unit has trained with its mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles, which can be outfitted for different missions. One MRAP, the Husky mine-detection vehicle, has ground penetrating radar and metal detection systems on board that helped it find and mark improvised explosive devices buried in roadways by insurgents.
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Adjutant General, Lt. Governor part of youth safety program kickoff
GREEN BAY, Wis. - During a visit to Pioneer Elementary School in the Ashwaubenon School District, Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin's adjutant general, and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch announced the return of the Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP) program to Wisconsin classrooms.

"When disaster strikes, it's important that Wisconsin communities know how to respond and act quickly," Dunbar said. "The STEP program not only teaches students how to prepare for emergencies, but it also encourages them to share that information with their families. I encourage interested schools in the Green Bay area and throughout the state to sign up for this program and help prepare their students for emergencies."

Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator Brian Satula and AT&T Wisconsin President Scott VanderSanden also attended the kickoff event.
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@ease Autumn 2014
From Alaska to Afghanistan, from old tanks to hybrid vehicles, and from top marksmen to top mess sections, find out what's happening in the Wisconsin National Guard in the latest issue of @ease!
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Wisconsin Air Guard members awarded for outstanding conduct
Four Airmen with the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 128th Air Refueling Wing received Air Force Association awards Sept. 18 at the 2014 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C.

Maj. Jason Park and Capt. Rory Cattelan, both pilots with the 128th Air Refueling Wing, and Staff Sgt. Tyson Krug, a boom operator with the 128th, were awarded the AFA Earl T. Ricks Award, given to Air National Guard members who have demonstrated outstanding airmanship.

Specifically, that aircrew safely and successfully handled an in-flight emergency aboard a KC-135R Stratotanker while deployed in support of the 379th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron in the Central Command theater of operations.
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Guard Soldiers go the distance to honor nation's fallenGuard Soldiers go the distance to honor nation's fallen
A group of 27 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers put on their packs to honor the nation's fallen during a half-marathon in Whitewater, Wisconsin, Sept. 21.

The group of Soldiers carried a half-pound for each of the more than 2,200 service members killed in Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001, and ruck marched the entire 13.1 miles of the course as it weaved its way through Whitewater.

Runners led the way for the second annual Discover Whitewater Half-Marathon, but the group of Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers representing units from around the state brought up the rear as they marched the course in combat boots, Army Combat Uniforms and ruck sacks carrying more than 1,100 pounds collectively.
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Wisconsin Air Guard's 115th Fighter Wing earns Outstanding Unit award
Earlier this month, the 115th Fighter Wing learned that it would receive the 2013 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award - its eighth such award.

The announcement was made during the 2014 Wingman and Family Day held at the unit's Madison, Wisconsin base Sept. 7.

"Your dedication and commitment enable the Air National Guard to fulfill its commitment to our national and state missions," said Col. Jeffrey Wiegand, 115th Fighter Wing commander. "Thank you for the enthusiasm and professionalism you bring to the 115th Fighter Wing and the Wisconsin Air National Guard every day."
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Madison Air Guard unit recognized for outstanding safety
MADISON, Wis. - The 115th Fighter Wing was presented the 2013 William W. Spruance Award, the National Guard Association of the United States' unit safety award, during the 136th General Conference and Exhibition at the McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, Aug. 25.

The 115th Fighter Wing was among 88 Air National Guard units vying for the award, and was selected because of its significant contribution to accident prevention in 2013. This is the fourth time the 115th has won the Spruance award.

According to Lt. Col. Brian Parker, 115th Fighter Wing chief of safety, the Wing's participation in the Occupational Safety and Health Association's Voluntary Protection Program significantly advanced its safety and health program in 2013.
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Red Arrow Soldiers building partnerships in Middle East
The importance of military-to-military partnerships and cooperation has been on display in recent weeks as the U.S. and partner nations work to combat the growing threat posed by extremist militants in the Middle East.

A group of Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard has been hard at work building and strengthening similar relationships in the region since it deployed to Kuwait and Jordan last spring.

The 65 Soldiers of the 32nd Military Engagement Team and the 32nd Base Defense Operations left Wisconsin in February en route to the Middle East.

The BDOC Soldiers are responsible for mission command of security and camp operations at a facility in Kuwait. Meanwhile the military engagement team, headquartered partially in Kuwait and partially in Jordan, has been busy travelling throughout the region engaging with key military and government leaders, and in some cases, royalty.
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Deployed artillerymen making a difference in Afghanistan
When you're only the second National Guard field artillery unit to conduct a combat fire support mission in Afghanistan, you're in select company. That's where the Soldiers of Battery A, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery find themselves as they continue their deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Their only other companions in that select group are also Wisconsinites - and from the same battalion, no less - from Battery B. The unit has big shoes to fill as it continues to blaze a trail for the National Guard and Wisconsin, and by all accounts, the Sussex, Wisconsin-based unit is acquitting itself well.

"These guys are the most committed and hard working group of individuals I've worked with," said. Capt. Aaron Ammerman, Battery A's commander. "They certainly make my job easy with their motivation and their level of knowledge that they bring to the table every day."
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National Guard museum showcases work of Milwaukee Soldier
When communications sections chief Staff Sgt. Sean Huolihan was deployed to Afghanistan, he had no idea that his additional duty as the unit historian would land him a gallery showing of his photography work at the National Guard Museum in Washington, D.C.

"It's an honor - I can't believe it," Huolihan said. "It's like a dream come true, not only have my work displayed but to represent Bravo 121, especially in the nations' capital."

Deployed with Battery B, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery to Afghanistan in 2013 for 10 months, Huolihan took more than 10,000 pictures.

He selected 17 of those photos be displayed at the museum.
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Stay-at-home dad serves two home fronts as Wisconsin National Guard Airman
MILWAUKEE - Before the sun crests the treetops that flank that backside of Airman 1st Class Richard Wengler's house, the 36-year-old father of two young boys gives them a kiss goodbye. He prepares to leave one career and report for duty at the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Maintenance Squadron, for his other career. This sounds familiar to most who serve in the military, leaving their family to report for service. Unlike most people who have a 40-hour work week to earn an income working in an office, working for a municipality, or working for the local cable provider, Wengler's full-time job does not garner him a paycheck. It offers him something many parents would love to say is their full-time career. Wengler is a stay-at-home dad.
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Adjutant general hosts online town hall
Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin's adjutant general, hosted an online town hall Sept. 16, where he took questions from deployed Guardsmen, their families and other service members on a wide range of topics.

More than 200 people logged on for the conversation.

The general took a variety of questions ranging from the budget outlook for the National Guard to questions on the Guard's future role in potential conflicts. Most of the online audience was interested to hear how their deployed Soldiers or Airmen were fairing overseas.
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Milwaukee Brewers provide major-league salute to the home team
Not everybody in uniform taking the field this season at Miller Park - home of Major League Baseball's Milwaukee Brewers - was a professional baseball player.

For seven games this season, select members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard were chosen for pre-game recognition or to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, as part of a collaborative effort between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Recruiting and Retention Battalion.

According to 1st Lt. Brian Schwalbach, Recruiting and Retention Battalion resource manager, the premise of the partnership with the Brewers was retention and recognition.
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Employers honored for Guard member support
Approximately 70 employers and employees from the Madison area attended an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) event here Sept. 5, recognizing employers who went above and beyond in their support of Guard and Reserve service members.

"Executing the mission of the 115th Fighter Wing would not be possible without the strong support of our Airmen's employers," said Col. Jeffrey Wiegand, 115th Fighter Wing commander. "With deployments lasting months at a time, there is tremendous value in the Airmen not having to worry about losing their civilian job while they are deployed."

In 1972 ESGR was established to promote cooperation and understanding between Guard members and their civilian employers, and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee's military commitment.
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Milwaukee exercise tests CST’s skills
As the nation reflected on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the Wisconsin National Guard's 54th Civil Support Team was hard at work training to combat terrorism here at home.

The Madison, Wisconsin-based unit concluded a multi-day exercise in Milwaukee where evaluators from U.S. Army North assessed the unit's ability to respond to the myriad scenarios the CST could encounter.

The Sept. 11 exercise required the 54th to enter a vacant office building in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, where civilian investigators believed a terrorist had manufactured a bomb and nerve agents that had been deployed in a fictional scenario at a Milwaukee concert venue two days earlier.
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Oconomowoc boy donates birthday presents to deployed Guardsmen
When most teenage boys turn 15 years old, they're only thinking about themselves. Not Ben Sampson, of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

Ben, who just entered his sophomore year at Oconomowoc High School, celebrated his birthday Aug. 18, but instead of asking his buddies for presents, he asked them to bring items to send to his neighbor, Maj. Jack Melvin, who is currently deployed with the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 32nd Military Engagement Team in the Middle East.

Ben and his mother, Angela, brainstormed some ideas and ultimately decided to collect snacks, candy, sports memorabilia and other items to show their support for their neighbor and his family.
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Wisconsin Guardsmen play role in international exercise
Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade played a role in a major international military exercise in August.

The Milwaukee-based unit sent 32 Soldiers to Fort Lewis, Washington, to participate in Ulchi Freedom Guardian, a yearly exercise that simulates a war on the Korean Peninsula. This year's exercise, which occurs annually in August, tested U.S., South Korean and other Allied nations' abilities to execute their battle plans in the event of hostilities. The simulated scenario began approximately 100 days into the notional outbreak of war.
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Air National Guard completes first hybrid vehicle maintenance course
Hybrid vehicles are coming to the Air National Guard, and 10 Airmen are now better prepared to handle their specific maintenance requirements after completing the Air National Guard's very first hybrid vehicle maintenance course Aug. 29 at Volk Field.

Six years ago, the Air Force called for implementing hybrid vehicles to reduce overall fuel consumption by 2 percent annually and increase the vehicle fleet's mile-per-gallon performance as part of its Infrastructure Energy Strategic Plan. Three years ago, a White House memorandum declared that all new light duty vehicles leased or purchased by government agencies must be alternative fueled vehicles - hybrids, electric, compressed natural gas or biodiesel - by Dec. 31, 2015.
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Former state Air Guard chief inducted into Hall of Fame
MADISON, Wis. - Retired Brig. Gen. Gerald C. Olesen was inducted into the Wisconsin Air National Guard Hall of Fame during a Sept. 6 ceremony at Joint Force Headquarters.

Brig. Gen. Gary Ebben, Wisconsin's assistant adjutant general for Air, presented Olesen with the award, along with praise for achievements throughout his 41-year military career.

"I got to witness first hand his passion and energy for the Air National Guard," Ebben said.

Olesen enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1967. Four years later he transferred to the Wisconsin Air National Guard and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1978. Olesen was promoted to brigadier general on Oct. 14, 2006. He retired in 2008 after serving as the Wisconsin Air National Guard's top officer.
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War, wounds and words: Setting the stage for post-combat life
The names from antiquity - Sophocles, Ajax, Tecmessa - may sound strange to modern ears. But the message they bring should resonate as clearly today as when they were first delivered nearly 2,500 years ago.

That is the aim of Theater of War with their traveling production of Ajax, a Greek tragedy written by the renowned Greek playwright Sophocles - himself a veteran of the Athenian campaign against the island city-state Samos. The 260th and 261st performances were conducted Sept. 6 at DeForest High School in DeForest, Wisconsin before military and civilian audiences.

Brian Doerries, founder of Theater of War, said the idea for bringing renditions of ancient Greek plays to military bases and communities across the nation is based on the concept that these ancient works were "a form of storytelling, ritual purification and reintegration for veterans by veterans." He believes that the ancient works have something meaningful to say to veterans today.
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Triathlon team aims to tackle Ironman together
MADISON, Wis. - When Aaron Hunnel crosses the finish line at the Ironman Wisconsin Sept. 6, he will join many of the other competitors in completing his first Ironman triathlon.

What sets him apart is that he will complete the race after pulling and pushing a wheelchair-bound woman with cerebral palsy for the entire 140.6 miles.

Hunnel, a legal administrator and warrant officer in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, from Appleton, Wisconsin, and his Ironman partner, Adam Lofquist, will pull Katie Neuman, of Neenah, Wisconsin, in a raft tethered to their waists for the 2.4-mile swim. Then they'll hitch a trailer to their bicycles to complete the 112-mile bike portion, before pushing her through the 26.2-mile run.
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Guard aviators playing important role in Afghanistan
Though small in number, a Wisconsin Army National Guard unit is doing big things in Afghanistan.

The seven Soldiers of Detachment 52 of the Operational Support Airlift Command, based in Madison, Wisconsin, deployed to Afghanistan in March, and since then the unit has had the important mission of shuttling high-level personnel through the skies of Afghanistan aboard a C26 fixed-wing aircraft.

Every day begins with pre-flight planning, aircraft inspections and then takeoff to various destinations around the country as requested. The destinations could include ceremonies, troop visits, memorials to fallen service members or regional emergencies, but according to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Paul Phelps, the Soldiers of Detachment 52 take pride in completing as many missions as possible.
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Wisconsin Air Guard unit promotes three senior enlisted leaders
MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing recognized three outstanding senior enlisted leaders during a recent promotion ceremony.

Kevin Bluske, Jarrett Calhoun and Jessica Maple were promoted to chief master sergeant - the highest enlisted rank in the Air Force - Aug. 23. According to Air National Guard Instruction 38-202, only 2 percent of the Air National Guard force can become a chief master sergeant.

Bluske is the wing weapons manager, Calhoun is the aircraft maintenance superintendent, and Maple - the 2010 Air National Guard senior noncommissioned officer of the year - is the human resources advisor for the 115th Fighter Wing.
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Theater of War aims to bring awareness about invisible wounds of war
MADISON, WIS. - The Wisconsin National Guard will host two performances of the Theater of War: Soldiers and Citizens Tour at the DeForest Area High School Performing Arts Center Sept. 6 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The tour will present dramatic readings of Sophocles' "Ajax" - an ancient Green tragedy about the suicide of a great, respected warrior - to both military and civilian audiences in an effort to engage communities in powerful town hall discussions about the visible and invisible wounds of war. Notable actor David Stathairn, who played roles in "The Bourne Ultimatum," "Good Night and Good Luck," and "Lincoln," will be joined on-stage by Erica Newhouse, known for her roles in "Law and Order," "The Good Wife," and "Blue Bloods."
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Badgers pen their support to deployed Guardsmen
Gross said the UW athletic department had the opportunity to host two groups of wounded warriors last year, which had a profound impact on many of the Badgers athletes. Over the years, teams have also visited area veterans hospitals as well.

The letters, she said, expressed each student-athlete's appreciation for the military and their role in protecting the nation's freedom.

"There is a general understanding, in reading through them, that they're allowed to play their sport and do the things they love because of the sacrifice of our Armed Forces members," she said. "And for them to be freshmen and have that understanding and be able to express that in a letter of appreciation is outstanding."
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Soldiers re-enlist in front of Lambeau faithful
The Green Bay Packers honored more than 75 Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard in a pre-game ceremony Aug. 22 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Just before kickoff of the Packers pre-season game against the Oakland Raiders, the Guardsmen marched onto the hallowed turf of Lambeau to a thundering applause from fans. The deafening reception sounded similar to a Packers touchdown.

"It's pretty neat that somebody took the time to honor us and think that it would be relevant for the years and time that we give up away from our significant others," Staff Sgt. Casey Kuehn, of Rosendale, Wisconsin, said.
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Wisconsin Air Guardsmen gain critical combat skills at Red Flag-Alaska
Approximately 130 Airmen from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing participated in RED FLAG-Alaska, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 7-22, where they refreshed skills and faced real-world scenarios to test their abilities in a high-paced environment.

The 176th Fighter Squadron conducted advanced aerial combat training with different aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor, E-3 Sentry, A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon. Missions included offensive counter-air and defensive counter-air against an advanced enemy integrated air defense system, said Col. Steve Kensick, 176th Fighter Squadron operations group commander.

"It's a great opportunity for the pilots to get a chance to fly in a different environment, drop live munitions and fly against multiple aircraft," said Maj. Tom Nunamaker, 115th Fighter Wing deployed maintenance commander.
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Visiting Red Horse Squadron gives Wisconsin Air Guard base a boost
MADISON, Wis. – Airmen pouring concrete, turning windows into walls and installing doors were active throughout the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wisconsin, August 3-22.

Identified by their red hats, members of the 210th Red Horse Squadron out of Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, came to the 115th to help with various infrastructure projects.

“We brought these individuals here as an initiative to use our limited sustainment repair modernization funds, to get more work accomplished,” said Maj. Daniel Statz, 115th Civil Engineering Squadron commander.

The cost of labor alone would have put a big dent in the budget. By bringing the 210th RHS out to do the infrastructure work, the 115th did not have to pay a civilian contractor for labor costs — they just had to pay the Airmen for their training days and provide the construction materials needed to get the jobs done.
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Wisconsin Air Guard unit named best in Air Force
The Wisconsin Air National Guard's 128th Air Control Squadron earned the right to call itself the best in the Air Force.

The unit, based at Volk Field in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period ranging from fall 2011 to fall 2013, while participating in its annual training at Operation Northern Strike at the Alpena Combat Regional Training Center in Alpena, Michigan. The award, which identifies them as the top air control squadron in the Air Force, is the fifth in the 128th's history.

Brig. Gen. Gary Ebben, the assistant adjutant general for the Wisconsin Air National Guard, Col. Dave Romuald, the commander of the Volk Field Combat Training Readiness Center, and Command Chief Master Sergeant Gregory Cullen were all on hand to present the award to the Airmen of the 128th and their commander, Lt. Col. Gerard Iverson.
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Political delegation visits Guard facilities at Fort McCoy
Members of Wisconsin state government and representatives of the state’s congressional delegation visited Wisconsin National Guard facilities at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Aug. 15.

State Rep. Warren Petryk, who represents Wisconsin’s 93rd State Assembly District and chairs the assembly’s Committee on Veterans, joined representatives from the offices of Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson, and the office of Gov. Scott Walker, as well as those of congressmen Ron Kind, Mark Pocan and Reid Ribble. Others from the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau also took part.

After a morning briefing about the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy, the Wisconsin Military Academy, and the 426th Regional Training Institute — all housed at Fort McCoy — the 12-member delegation toured the military academy’s facilities where they got hands-on experience with several simulators. In one simulator, they fired weapons like the M-16, M-4, M-9, M-240B, and others. The group also used an artillery simulator to call for fire on simulated targets. Each representative also climbed into a Humvee simulator and manned gunner, driver and assistant driver responsibilities.
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Soldier honors employer for outstanding support
When Sgt. 1st Class Cody Krepline returned from Afghanistan after his 2013 deployment with the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Battery B, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, he began the process of reintegrating back into civilian life.

He found a job with the Ariens Company in his hometown Brillion, Wisconsin, and returned to his life as a husband and father of three children under the age of six.

But Krepline’s reintegration was far from seamless, and he struggled with a variety of post-deployment issues that ultimately affected his ability to be an effective employee and father figure. However, his new employer — and specifically, his two direct line supervisors — stood by his side and allowed Krepline to get the support and treatment he needed to get his life back to a better place.
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Wisconsin Guard program gives developing Airmen chance to spread their wings
The engine is loud. Shadows from the rotor blades are constantly hitting the ground. The Airmen inside are given the go-ahead to exit the UH-60 Black Hawk. One by one they exit, ducking down to ensure they avoid the blades.

Smiles are on all of their faces. For most of the Airmen, this was their first and possibly only Black Hawk ride.

Airmen from around the state of Wisconsin came together for the Junior Enlisted Development Program (JEOP) July 29-31. They had an opportunity to meet the state's adjutant general, assistant adjutant general and state command chief. They also learned about the missions the Air National Guard has in the state by traveling to the 115th Fighter Wing, Volk Field Air National Guard Base and the 128th Air Refueling Wing.

"I signed up for the program because I wanted to get a broad perspective on the Air National Guard mission," said Senior Airman Brandon Roddick, 115th Fighter Wing weapons loader. "I learned about that, and I also got to make amazing new friends along the way."
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950th Engineer Company ordered to Afghanistan this fall
Approximately 95 Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 950th Engineer Company will deploy to Afghanistan this fall.

The Superior, Wisconsin-based unit specializes in route clearance and combating threats posed by improvised explosive devices. The 950th also has a detachment in Spooner, Wisconsin.

The unit will deploy to eastern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Resolute Support, where it will conduct route clearance operations to find and defeat improvised explosive devices on the region’s main supply routes. The unit will be in Afghanistan during the anticipated transition from Operation Enduring Freedom to the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support. Resolute Support’s main objective will be to train, advise and assist Afghan forces after the completion of the 2014 drawdown. The 950th’s operations will be critical to U.S. efforts to move troops and equipment out of Afghanistan.
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A Wisconsin Guard Soldier plays an important role as an Aviation Specialist
Annual training is a team effort. Hear one Wisconsin National Guard Soldier explain his role in helping the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment accomplish its annual training goals this year.
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Wisconsin Guard EOD team part of large-scale disaster response exercise
A tiny rope, less than an inch in circumference, holds his entire 250-pound body. Keeping the rope in his right hand, he moves it away from his body and quickly pushes off the wall using his feet. The slack allows him to jump a story and a half down the wall. When he's ready to stop, he pulls the rope back behind his body and with little effort comes to a stop. Before long, he makes a few quick maneuvers back and forth with the rope. When he is comfortable, he completely lets go.

Feeling confident the information he just learned in the ropes course that morning was accurate, there he hangs, perfectly safe, upside-down off the wall of a three-story building.

The rappelling activity was just one of many exercises explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing, 104th Fighter Wing and 155th Air Refueling Wing completed as a part of the 2014 PATRIOT exercise at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin, July 18-25. These three EOD units teamed up to learn as much as they could from each other during their short time together.
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Wisconsin Guardsmen earn German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge
Thirteen Soldiers and one Airman from the Wisconsin National Guard earned the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency during testing held at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, earlier this year.

The badge is a military decoration of the Bundeswehr, the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany, and it is one of the few foreign awards U.S. Soldiers are authorized to wear on the Army's dress uniform. Participants can earn a bronze, silver or gold award based on their performances in each event, as well as their age and gender.
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Dane County Airport runway closures gives 115th Fighter Wing 'Volk Time'
Pilots and support personnel from the 115th Fighter Wing relocated to Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin, for the month of July.

The relocation allowed fighter pilots to continue their missions and flying requirements, while the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wisconsin, completed runway repairs and maintenance.

"We needed to keep training our pilots," said Lt. Col. John Kolberer, 176th Fighter Squadron commander. "All of our pilots need a certain number of sorties to remain proficient and qualified in the F-16."
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Civil Support Team training state's HAZMAT teams
The Wisconsin National Guard’s 54th Civil Support Team (CST) is lending a helping hand to the state’s top hazardous materials (hazmat) teams as they work to validate their skills and equipment to be ready to respond to the most serious chemical spills and events that could occur in Wisconsin.

In early July, the CST conducted three days of intensive training focused on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) scenarios for the City of Milwaukee Hazardous Materials Response Team. This training helped them become certified as a Type I team in the State of Wisconsin. The CST plans to conduct a similar training with the Eau Claire/Chippewa Falls Hazardous Materials Team which is the other designated Type I team in the state.
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Patriot Exercise tests Wisconsin Army Guard air crews
Air crews from the Wisconsin Army National Guard played an important role in the 2014 Patriot Exercise held July 21-24 at Volk Field, Wisconsin.

Soldiers from the Madison, Wisconsin-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation and the West Bend, Wisconsin-based 2nd Battalion, 238th Aviation, participated in the annual exercise that tests the National Guard’s ability to respond to domestic scenarios.

The exercise, organized annually by the National Guard Bureau, includes a variety of scenarios ranging from downed aircraft, rubble pile searches and medical evacuation missions to chemical and biological scenarios and mass casualty situations.
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Band's versatility garners fans, earns awards
What do John Philip Sousa, Van Halen, George Strait and Duke Ellington have in common?

Chances are good that the Wisconsin National Guard's 132nd Army Band has played their music.

Technically, the 43-member group is a concert band. But it is also a marching band, ceremonial band, jazz band, brass ensemble, saxophone group, flute choir, rock band and country band.

"We can make lots of smaller groups," said Sgt. Bridgette Kidd, a junior leader with the 132nd Army Band and a member of its music performance team After Action Rock. "We can cover multiple missions at the same time."
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Red Arrow food service section aims to win regional competition
FORT McCOY, Wis. — When the food service section of the 132nd Brigade Support Battalion's Headquarters Company served chow to about 100 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers July 12, it also served notice of its intent to advance in the Philip A. Connelly Awards Program food service competition.

The food service specialists had four hours to prepare 100 meals in a tactical environment. The incentive at the regional competition is $15,000 to the state food service and equipment budget, and an additional $25,000 for the winners at the national level.
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Military kids build lasting bonds at youth camp
“I was terrified,” 16-year-old Julliana Barlow of Marshall, Wisconsin, said, as she described her feeling as she climbed the stairs to the top of the rappel tower.

Barlow was one of many kids attending the Wisconsin National Guard Youth Camp hosted by the Wisconsin National Guard Family Program at Volk Field and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, from July 11-13. Campers were divided into three age groups; 8-10, 11- 13, 14-17.

According to the camp’s mission statement, its purpose is to assemble children from military families and provide them with an opportunity to discover and make new friends while engaging in teamwork. Tina Jeffords, Youth Program Coordinator, believes this is important because it provides a network for military families, which is critical, especially during deployments.

It’s important for the youth campers, “to make friends and build a support network so when their family members deploy they have someone who understands and gets it,” said Jeffords.
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Wisconsin Army National Guard re-organizing units, armories
MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Army National Guard will vacate two armories under a plan to reorganize its units and consolidate operations.

The Guard will vacate the Richland Center and Burlington armories. In addition, armories in Merrill and Baraboo will lose the units that currently occupy those facilities but will remain open for Army National Guard Soldiers participating in the Recruit Sustainment Program.

The once-vacated armory in Berlin will be reopened under the reorganization plan.

The reorganization will be effective beginning later in 2014 and be complete by late 2015.
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@ease Summer 2014
From a sendoff ceremony in Milwaukee to mobilization training at Fort Bliss in Texas, responding to multiple disaster scenarios in Wisconsin and a mock earthquake in Alaska, from Best Warrior to Best Ranger, from Air National Guard recruiter training to Raven unmanned aerial vehicle training, from diversity plans to dual hats, from new salutes for old Soldiers to a new commander for the Red Arrow, from STARBASE to Challenge Academy, and from renaming a street for a Soldier's legacy to continuing a family's legacy of service, find out what's happening in the Wisconsin National Guard in the latest issue of @ease!
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On its birthday, warrant officer corps reflects on its growing role

When the Army officially established the warrant officer corps 96 years ago, its original members were billed as subject matter experts in their particular crafts. The role of the warrant officer in the military actually traces its lineage back to early naval history, when boatswains served as the continuity aboard ships when captains moved on to new assignments. The boatswains knew the ship inside and out as well as its limits, capabilities and what it took to run the ship, which allowed for seamless transitions when new captains took the helm.

The Army’s first warrant officers, which officially came into existence July 9, 1918, hailed from the Adjutant General corps and served as field clerks. But as the corps grew, so did its role within the Army’s force structure.
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Wisconsin Army Guard food section runner-up in Army competition

The Wisconsin Army National Guard's Headquarters Company, 257th Brigade Support Battalion was named the reserve component food service section runner-up in the Department of the Army Philip A. Connelly Awards Program.

The Oak Creek, Wisconsin-based unit won the Region 3 competition last August, and served up an encore performance in March. The winners were announced in June. The food service section from the 443rd Transportation Company, an Army Reserve unit in Elkhorn, Nebraska, edged Wisconsin for the reserve component crown.

"Since we are the top-scoring unit from the National Guard, [Wisconsin has] the right to say they have the top food service team in the country — an important bragging right in many circles," said Sgt. Kyle Edwards, the Wisconsin National Guard food program manager. Edwards was the lead cook with the Headquarters Company's food service section during the competition.
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Wisconsin Guardsman top shooter in regional competition

CAMP PERRY, Ohio — One of the best rifle marksmen in the National Guard hails from Wisconsin.

Sgt. Brandon Swanson of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, a member of the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Brigade Combat Team, not only took the top individual spot in the Marksmanship Advisory Council Region Four-Small Arms Championship, but was part of the third-place Wisconsin National Guard team.

Illinois teams took first and second overall, and also claimed the individual pistol champion.

The Wisconsin National Guard fielded two four-person teams this year. Team A consisted of Swanson, Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Zabinski, Recruiting and Retention Battalion; Sgt. Aaron Cobosco, Detachment 1, Company F, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion; and Staff Sgt. Jordan Ceglar, Detachment 1, Headquarters Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Team B included Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Iwanski, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment; Sgt. Tyler Freer, 426th Regional Training Institute; Spc. Max Henrickson, Detachment 1, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment; and Staff Sgt. Tristan Babl, Company A, 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment.
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Red Arrow engineers build home away from home during training
Construction engineers with Wisconsin Army National Guard's 32nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion (BSTB) transformed a barren training area into a working forward operating base (FOB) during training on Fort McCoy's North Post.

The Soldiers, from the 32nd BSTB's Company A in Onalaska, Wisconsin, used various pieces of earth-moving equipment, and a bit of hard work, to transform Training Area 397 to a FOB complete with a main entrance area and defensive fighting positions.
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Transportation unit hauls VFW tank across state in training exercise
HARTFORD, Wisconsin - Soldiers with the Wisconsin Army National Guard transported an M60A3 tank from in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Hartford, to its new home in Woodruff, Wisconsin, as part of a training exercise June 16.

There was a large turnout of people to watch as the Black River Falls, Wisconsin-based 1158th Transportation Company moved the tank from the VFW post in Hartford, to the VFW post in Woodruff.

Staff Sgt. Diana Metz, with the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 229th Engineer Company, explained that the 1158th was required to take a very specific route while transporting the tank. Since it was such a large load to transport, they had to be careful what streets and bridges they took en route to their final destination.
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Challenge Academy graduates ready to turn their lives around
MAUSTON, Wisconsin - The 32nd class of the Wisconsin National Guard’s Challenge Academy celebrated their graduation at Mauston High School here June 12.

The graduating class is the largest in Challenge Academy history, with 120 cadets receiving their diplomas. The class initially started out with 176 cadets in January.

"For most kids, this is their last chance," explained Keith Krueger, deputy director of the Challenge Academy program. "It’s amazing to see how much they grow when they’re here, but it’s up to them how far they go. They need to find it within themselves to change."
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Red Arrow welcomes new brigade commander

The 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team welcomed new commander Col. Mike Rand during a change-of-command ceremony conducted at the Wisconsin Military Academy at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, June 12. Rand and outgoing commander Col. Tim Lawson shared words of encouragement and thanks, while speaking of furthering the storied legacy of the 32nd Brigade.

Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, shared these sentiments.

“What a great day for the Wisconsin Army National Guard and especially for the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team,” Dunbar said during his opening remarks.

Dunbar went on to speak about the rich history of the 32nd and how both the outgoing and incoming commander played roles in helping the 32nd Brigade fulfill its responsibility to “be ready when this Nation calls.”
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Red Arrow takes part in MacArthur statue re-dedication, recognition of new service members

During the Second World War, Soldiers from the National Guard’s 32nd Division landed in Australia to begin a combat campaign that took them from the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines to Japan.

The Red Arrow ultimately logged more days in combat than any other American division in the war while it served under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Seventy years later, descendants of the 32nd Division – Red Arrow Soldiers of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team – were on hand to re-dedicate a statue of MacArthur in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee County moved the 9-foot-6-inch bronze statue from its previous location in MacArthur Square near the Milwaukee County Courthouse to a more prominent location in Veterans Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront. Members of the 32nd, senior military leaders and dignitaries of foreign nations were on hand to formally re-dedicate the statue at its new location June 7.
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When responding to the worst, Wisconsin Guardsman the best

The U.S. Army announced June 5 the winners of its chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear competition for 2014.

Staff Sgt. Edward Schmitt, of Lake Mills, Wisconsin, with the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 54th Civil Support Team was awarded the CBRN Noncommissioned Officer of the Year award for the Army. The competition included all components of the Army, including Active, National Guard, and Reserve.

The competitors were evaluated based on their merits and leadership skills both within and outside the Army. Soldiers were nominated by their first sergeants and commanders, and a board reviewed each competitor’s packet during judging at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, in April.

“We nominated Sgt. Schmitt because he is the ideal NCO,” said Sgt. 1st Class Matt Tracy of the 54th CST. “He is smart, dedicated to the mission and his Soldiers, and physically is above and beyond. Whatever your definition of an NCO would be, he fits that.”
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New senior enlisted leader takes responsibility at 426th Regional Training Institute

The 426th Regiment Regional Training Institute (RTI) welcomed its new commandant during a Change of Responsibility ceremony June 7 at the Wisconsin Military Academy (WMA) at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Easterday, the outgoing command sergeant major of the 426th, was commended for his achievements during his tenure at the RTI.

“He is going to be a big loss to the organization, but like all great leaders he has built a great bench of people behind him that will continue to fill the ranks,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, the top officer in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

Easterday passed the noncommissioned officer sword off to his successor, Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph W. Moehrke, signifying the responsibility and authority from the outgoing to the incoming command sergeant major.
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Serving in the Guard a family affair for Densons

When Pvt. Rylie Denson graduates from Poynette High School this weekend, she will take the next step toward her future in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

Denson enlisted as a flight operations specialist in the Madison, Wisconsin-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, Feb. 25, and she will report to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, in August.

When she returns to her unit from training, she will begin writing the next chapter in a three-generation line of Densons to serve in the 147th. Her father, Maj. Doug Denson, currently serves as the battalion’s executive officer, and her grandfather, retired Brig. Gen. Kerry Denson, was the original commander who stood up the unit at its founding in 1985. Brig. Gen. Denson went on to become the director of aviation for the Wisconsin Army National Guard and eventually the assistant adjutant general for the state’s Army National Guard.

The elder Densons have long lineages in the military with multiple combat deployments. Brig. Gen Denson was originally drafted in 1965 and later served two combat tours in Vietnam as a decorated helicopter pilot. He was shot down three times.
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Wisconsin Air National Guard supports regional airport disaster exercise

The Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing Fire Emergency Services worked alongside their civilian colleagues from neighboring fire departments during a full-scale exercise at the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wisconsin June 3.

The training scenario could easily be categorized as "worst-case scenario." A despondent ex-boyfriend armed with a handgun and a vest bomb apprehends his ex-girlfriend — an employee at the Dane County Regional Airport — and forces his way onto a commercial airplane, demanding to fly to Mexico. The pilots convince the hijacker that a mechanical failure is preventing takeoff. Negotiations break down with the hijacker, who detonates his vest bomb — causing fire and considerable damage to the plane, as well as killing several passengers and severely wounding the rest.

The 115th Fighter Wing Fire Emergency Services, already located at Truax Field — the airfield used by the Dane County Regional Airport — are the first to respond. They encounter a burning fuselage, and dozens of bodies strewn across the pavement.
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Wisconsin Guard general accepts mobilization role in time of transition

Brig. Gen. Ken Koon knows a thing or two about having National Guard units ready to deploy.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard's assistant adjutant general for readiness and training recently accepted an additional assignment with the same mission but a larger scope — First Army Division West's deputy commanding general of operations.

"It's actually very similar to what I do for the Wisconsin Army National Guard," Koon explained.

Koon is the second Wisconsin Army National Guard general officer to serve in that capacity. Retired Brig. Gen. Dominic Cariello, the former land forces component commander for the Wisconsin Army National Guard, held the very same post in 2010. Koon may be the last to fill that dual-hat role as the Army transitions away from its wartime footing.
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Wisconsin Air Guard members train for best outcome to worst-case scenario

MADISON, Wis. — Though they hope to never have to use these skills, Airmen from across the 115th Fighter Wing recently completed certification that allows them to decontaminate, triage, stabilize and prepare to transport up to 100 people in the event of chemical, biological or radiological contamination on base.

The team certification is part of a national requirement to have counter-contaminant programs in place at all active and reserve component Air Force bases. The threat of contamination could result from an intentional attack, major accident, natural disaster, hazardous material spill or an inadvertent industrial accident.

The 976A Patient Decontamination certification came after a week of class time. The group was put to the test on their final day of training and proved to their instructor they could set up a complete decontamination area in less than 20 minutes.
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STARBASE Wisconsin back on course

After an unintended break due to sequestration, the Wisconsin Air National Guard's STARBASE Wisconsin program has resumed operations in Milwaukee.

STARBASE — Science and Technology Academies Reinforcing Basic Aviation and Space Exploration — is like a booster class in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for elementary students. Located in Building 301 in the Army Reserve Center at 5130 West Silver Spring Drive, STARBASE Wisconsin draws students from area Milwaukee Public School system classrooms.

According to Col. John Puttre, Wisconsin Air National Guard director of staff, once it became clear that a federal budget would not be approved by Oct. 1 of last year, the plug was reluctantly pulled on STARBASE. The STARBASE staff are state "project" employees — meaning they are hired for a specific job for a specific duration — but the state receives federal funds from the Department of Defense to pay them.
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Airman counts blessings, receives Purple Heart
MADISON, Wis. - It was standing room only. All eyes were on the man in the front. He stood tall and proud at attention - hands cupped into a tight fist, arms straight and tight against his sides.

The master sergeant had incredible military bearing. Even as he received the Purple Heart, he remained calm and collected. The only glimpse of pride he showed was after he received the medal, as he looked up at the crowd of people who were there to support him.

"To look out and see everyone there, and to have my wife and family there to see it, how can you not feel proud?" asked Master Sgt. Joshua Johnson, 115th Fighter Wing budget analyst. "Seeing the faces of those you respect clapping back at you is a humbling experience."
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'Spot-check' tests Wisconsin Guard WMD response team's skills

Even though the 4 a.m. phone call was part of an unannounced training exercise, the Wisconsin National Guard's 54th Civil Support Team (CST) responded as if the threat was real.

Maj. Joe Davison, 54th CST deputy commander, said the full-time, 22-person team conducts monthly unit-level exercises to remain proficient at the specialized skills required to respond to chemical, biological, radiologic or nuclear threats.

"Today is a little bit unique because we have external evaluators from U.S. Army North that do mandatory external evaluations of all civil support teams across the country," Davison explained. "They're here acting as our incident commander and also observer controllers of each functional area to make sure we're proficient in all skills."
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Wisconsin National Guard enacts updated diversity plan

MADISON, Wis. — With seven collective strokes of a pen, the Wisconsin National Guard's Diversity Strategic Plan took effect during a May 20 ceremony in Witmer Hall at the state Department of Military Affairs.

"We're extremely excited," said Capt. Peter Owen, the Wisconsin National Guard's equal employment manager. "The concepts in this plan, you'll find, are not limited to diversity you can see. You'll find out that it's about leadership — it's about capitalizing on what you have as an organization to make the organization stronger."

The goals of the diversity strategic plan call for improving mission readiness and mission operations, developing a team of exceptional personnel drawn from — and representative of — the communities in which they serve, and building strategic engagement and community outreach. The plan includes evaluations and assessments to eliminate barriers that adversely affect recruiting, hiring, development and retention.
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Rhinelander dedicates street in honor of fallen Guardsman

Almost five years ago, near midnight, on Oct. 1, 2009, Sgt. Ryan Adams and his fellow Soldiers were conducting a convoy mission in Logar Province, Afghanistan. As they pushed on, through the blackness of night, two unidentified men were spotted on a hill near the route where the convoy was headed. As they monitored the bystanders, one of them lit up a cigarette. Immediately after that, the lead vehicle was hit with a rocket propelled grenade.

The cigarette was probably the signal that let the Taliban know that the convoy was in position, said Sgt. 1st Class Lyle Scott Spurgeon. Now medically retired, Spurgeon was a platoon sergeant with the 951st Engineer Company (Sapper) in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Spurgeon was the convoy commander at the time of the attack.

Adams' vehicle was third in line in the convoy. Spurgeon recalled Adams' vehicle being struck by a second rocket propelled grenade. Adams died tragically in the attack from wounds suffered in the explosion.
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Wisconsin National Guard, WEM, demonstrate communications strength
OSHKOSH, Wis. - Members of the Wisconsin National Guard and Wisconsin Emergency Management tested their mobile communications skills during the State Interoperable Mobile Communications (SIMCOM) Exercise in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, May 15. This was the first time the annual exercise was held in Northeast Wisconsin.

The SIMCOM tested mobile emergency communications platforms from federal, state, local, tribal, military, volunteer, and private organizations. The goal is to develop relationships and understand the capabilities of other agencies before they are needed in a real emergency.

"The ability to communicate in a crisis is critical," said Tod Pritchard, a public information officer with WEM. "SIMCOM helps Wisconsin Emergency Management and other agencies test their ability to share voice and data information in situations where phone and Internet services are down and communities are cut off from the world outside the disaster."
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With training nearly complete, 2 Wisconsin Guard units ready for Afghanistan

Two Wisconsin Army National Guard units on the verge of deploying to Afghanistan received a visit from their senior leaders as they trained at Fort Bliss, Texas, this week.

The Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin-based 829th Engineer Company and the Sussex, Wisconsin-based Battery A of the 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery have been training at Fort Bliss since leaving Wisconsin in early April. Now the two units are concluding the last of their pre-mobilization training and packing their equipment before heading to Afghanistan.

Senior leaders from the Wisconsin Army National Guard's higher headquarters and the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade — both units' higher headquarters — visited Fort Bliss to wish the Soldiers well.
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For Wisconsin, Best Warrior quest ends in Minnesota

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. — Despite a determined effort, neither of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's two Soldiers will advance beyond the Region IV Best Warrior Competition to the National Guard Bureau's competition this year.

"I gave it 100 percent," said Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Zabinski from Holmen, Wisconsin, a member of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion's Detachment 3, Company A. "It's kind of a tough ride home."

"I know I could have done better in a few events, and that's probably what knocked me out of winning, but that's the whole point of the competition," added Spc. Zachary Warnke of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, a member of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team's Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment. "The competition was so close that if you slip anywhere, that deficiency is going to be exploited. I still feel good about my results. I feel I did the best I could. Hopefully I did Wisconsin and my NCOs proud."
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Air National Guard leaders converge for Midwest safety summit

VOLK FIELD, Wis. — The large room was filled with rank. Airmen from around the country ranging from chief master sergeant through lieutenant general were in attendance at the 2014 Air National Guard Executive Safety Summit, held May 11-14 at Volk Field Air National Guard Base.

The safety summit's theme this year was, "Leaders: Don't Let Your Guard Down." The summit gave leadership nationwide a chance to come together to learn about the good things that have happened in the Air National Guard, the lessons they should take back with them to ensure young Airmen are given the guidance and leadership they need, and the preventative steps leadership can take to decrease the number of mishaps that occur each year.

"When we talk about safety being a commander's program or a leader's program, it's really about presence," said Maj. Gen. Kurt F. Neubauer, U.S. Air Force Chief of Safety and Air Force Safety Center commander. "And it's presence from a standpoint of what you say, and its presence, I think, from a standpoint of what you do and how you interact with your Airmen."
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Business leaders visit 115th Fighter Wing

MADISON, Wis. - Members of the Leinenkugel brewing family visited the 115th Fighter Wing May 3.

During the Saturday morning commander's call with 115th Fighter Wing leadership, Dick and CJ Leinenkugel, Leinenkugel's business development manager and product merchant, provided valuable insight on how their military experiences have helped them become successful businessmen.

"I run the risk of being around the Air Force and talking about the Marine Corps, but my experiences as a Marine helped me get to where I am today," Dick said.
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Wisconsin Guard marathoners set state record

Despite an extremely cold winter endured by 10 Wisconsin Army and Air Guard members during their train-up for the 2014 Lincoln National Guard Marathon, the team set a state record in making this year's All Guard Marathon Team, May 4.

After running a challenging 26.2 miles in Nebraska's 37th Lincoln Marathon, seven members of the Wisconsin Marathon Team finished with times fast enough to earn a place on the team. This is the most representatives Wisconsin has had make the team since the All Guard Team program began in 1984.

"It's awesome to have that many people representing," said Air Force Maj. Michael Western of the 128th Air Control Squadron, the Wisconsin team coordinator.
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Wisconsin Army Guard celebrates newest Hall of Honor inductees
Retired Col. Michael Fonger of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, retired Col. Michael Williams of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and 1st Sgt. Gregory Fulton of Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin were inducted into the Wisconsin Army National Guard Hall of Honor during a May 3 ceremony in Madison, Wisconsin.

The adjutants general have selected 54 recipients for the Hall of Honor since Aug. 30, 2000. The award is one of the most prestigious that a Wisconsin National Guard member can receive.

The Hall of Honor is designed to encourage esprit de corps, in remembrance of a Wisconsin National Guard heritage that spans more than 175 years. The purpose of this honor ensures proper recognition to individuals whom have made lasting and exceptional contributions to the Wisconsin Army National Guard.
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Civilians, citizen Soldiers/Airmen unite to test preparedness
The Wisconsin National Guard was part of an emergency preparedness exercise May 2-3 with the city of Portage, Columbia County Emergency Management and Divine Savior Hospital, testing their disaster response capabilities.

"The National Guard has two key roles - we are our nation's primary combat reserve, and our nation's first military responders," said Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general. "We are highly trained with command and control structures to bring a unit together to assist the incident commander and first responders in times of crisis. Everyone is here working together."

The exercise scenario began with a natural gas leak at a Portage plastics plant, leading to an explosion. A phosgene gas cloud is released, the structure collapses and there are missing employees. Emergency management response plans begin.
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Volk Field hosts national Air Guard recruiter training seminar
VOLK FIELD, Wis. - Recruiters from across the nation joined together for training at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin, April 27-May 2.

The training provided more than 600 recruiters a chance to learn the latest principles from National Guard Bureau instructors, network with each other, and gain important marketing knowledge to ensure Americans are aware of the opportunities available in the ANG.

"The training allows them to focus on the core reason they got into recruiting - to change lives and save lives," said Maj. Rondal Perry, Air National Guard advertising and marketing chief.

According to Perry, recruiter training similar to this began in the early 1970s. At that time all recruiters - approximately 200 from across the country - would meet annually. That continued until two years ago when budget cuts prevented the group from meeting.
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@ease Spring 2014
From sendoffs to welcome home ceremonies, from a WERC milestone to responding to winter storms, from Key West to the Bayou, and from appetites for victory to a family tradition of service, find out what's happening in the Wisconsin National Guard in the latest issue of @ease!
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Recruiters unveil new Wisconsin Guard app

The Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion officially joined the mobile application world as it launched its new mobile app May 2.

The new app puts recruiting and retention at the fingertips of Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers and those interested in becoming one. The public will be able to connect to the Guard from any mobile phone or tablet with the simple tap of a button. They will be able to explore career opportunities, peruse news, find local events, and even talk to a career specialist using the app.

“This is a great way to find a lot of useful information in one place that can be accessed from any location at any time. It’s important for our Recruiting and Retention Battalion to stay connected with other Guard members, Guard families, and potential recruits,” Wisconsin Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion commander Lt. Col. Rochell Maier said. “We live in a technology-driven world where the Millenniums use apps for the majority of everything they do. This will be a great app not only for individuals interested in finding out more information about the Wisconsin Army National Guard but for all our current Soldiers as well.”
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Rising leaders complete first state enlisted development program

VOLK FIELD, Wis. — A group of Wisconsin Air National Guardsmen graduated April 24 from the inaugural State Enlisted Development Program at Volk Field Air National Guard Base.

Command Chief Master Sgt. Gregory A. Cullen, the Wisconsin Air National Guard's senior enlisted leader, said the program development began after he received an inquiry from Chief Master Sgt. Chad Gibson, 128th Air Refueling Wing human resource advisor, about combining the Wisconsin unit development programs.

"Prior the State Enlisted Development Course, each unit had their own program," Cullen said. "It was our goal to develop a curriculum they could all use."
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Veterans, service members can benefit from accelerated trucking course

A new program launched earlier this month can help Wisconsin residents — including veterans and service members — receive commercial driver's licenses and guaranteed placement in the trucking industry.

The new training program will channel up to 300 new students into a four-week training course. Upon earning their commercial driver's license (CDL), students will be placed in one of three participating trucking firms — Schneider National of Green Bay, Wis., Roehl Transport of Marshfield, Wis., and WEL of De Pere, Wis. The newly placed students will become a permanent hire after completing the standard introductory stage.

Applicants must pass eligibility screening to be accepted in the accelerated course, which is currently offered at Fox Valley Technical College and will be offered at Waukesha County Technical College this summer. Related instruction is available at Chippewa Valley Technical College and Milwaukee Area Technical College.
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'Grandfather of Wisconsin Air Guard' recalls formative years

MILWAUKEE — For Ken Sweet, 92, the beginning of the Wisconsin Air National Guard can be traced to lofty dreams in a low time.

"I graduated from high school in June 1940, and there was a Depression like you couldn't imagine," Sweet told a gathering of Soldiers and Airmen at a recent Wisconsin National Guard senior leadership conference at the Lincoln War Memorial on Milwaukee's lakefront. Having heard stories about World War I's trench warfare from his father, Sweet determined to avoid infantry service and, despite wearing eyeglasses most of his life, aimed for an assignment having something to do with Army aviation.

"The recruiter told me I could go to Hawaii or I could go home," Sweet recalled with a laugh. "Where do I sign?"

Sweet was assigned to Wheeler Air Field as a mechanic, in the central part of Oahu. He fondly described the pre-war routine of garrison life, and the antics of pilots not only from Wheeler but from Ford Island — a spit of land facing the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard — who would "buzz" each other's locations as part of their training flights. Marine Corps pilots had developed a practice of flying single-file along a mountain range that pointed in the direction of Honolulu.
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Wisconsin Air Guard officer mentors students taking part in Senate youth program
ARLINGTON, Va. - Service members, including Air Force Maj. Jason Park, chief of safety with the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 128th Air Refueling Wing, from across the different military branches of service recently had the opportunity to participate in the U.S. Senate Youth Program in the District of Columbia.

The USSYP is a weeklong educational experience for exemplary high school seniors and juniors who are interested in one day pursuing careers in public service.

"These kids are not your average high school kids," said Park. "The hope is that these elite students, who are already interested in working for the federal government, will be even more interested through the opportunity they get to meet and talk with senior members of the government and military."
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Two Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers excel in Best Ranger Competition

"Ladies and gentlemen, in second place, Team 32 — Capt. Robert Killian, 5th Battalion, 14th Special Forces Group, Colorado Army National Guard, and 1st Lt. Nicholas Plocar, 127th Infantry, Wisconsin Army National Guard."

And with those words from Col. Kyle Lear, commander of the Ranger Training Brigade, the Army National Guard secured its highest finish in the annual Best Ranger Competition.

Of the 50 teams to start the competition April 13 at Fort Benning, Ga., four belonged to the National Guard, and two teams included Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers. Besides Team 32, Team 34 included 1st Lt. Jose Moreno of the Rhode Island Army National Guard and Staff Sgt. William Kocken, also of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry.

Team 34 finished 19th out of the 26 teams to complete the competition. The other two National Guard teams — 35 and 33 — finished in 17th and 11th place, respectively.
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State military code updated to expand definition of sexual assault
The Wisconsin National Guard continues to take the fight against sexual assault of its military members seriously.

Gov. Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 641 on April 8, which updates the Wisconsin Code of Military Justice (WCMJ) concerning how sexual assault is defined. The limiting offenses of "rape" and "carnal knowledge" are replaced by the more expansive punitive article "sexual assault."

The updated code also addresses sexual assault of a child, computer pornography and stalking.

Wisconsin is the first state in the nation to amend its state code specifically to provide an enhanced Article 120, Sexual Assault Punitive Article.

"It holds perpetrators accountable and protects victims in our ranks," said Col. Julio Barron, the Wisconsin National Guard's legislative liaison. "It also aligns closely with the [federal] Uniform Code of Military Justice."
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Soldier building his own legacy through competition
Most people strive to make a name for themselves and show they are an individual – not just like anyone you would see walking down the street. This can sometimes be a challenging concept to overcome, especially when you come from a military family.

For Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Sgt. Steven Jopek, having an older brother and father who served in the National Guard has been a motivation, as well as an obstacle for him in his military career.

“In an obstacle way, I am Ryan Jopek’s little brother, I’ll never be Sgt. Steven Jopek,” he said.

Jopek’s older brother, Ryan, was killed in action in Iraq while serving with the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team in 2006.
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State names Best Warriors after grueling competition

FORT MCCOY, Wis. – After battling rainy conditions, the Wisconsin Army National Guard wrapped up its three-day Best Warrior Competition Sunday.

Spc. Zackary Warnke, of Oshkosh, Wis., of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, won State Soldier of the Year, and Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Zabisnki, of Holmen, Wis., of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, won State Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. Both Soldiers will move on to represent Wisconsin against winners of other states at Camp Ripley, Minn., in May.

“The competition not only is a great way to see what you can do as a Soldier,” explained Zabinski, “but it also makes you a better Soldier for your unit. You learn so much about yourself and the Army before, during and after the competition is over.”

This year’s competition included a stress-fire range, physical fitness test, an M4 and M9 weapons qualification, a call-for-fire exercise, day and night land navigation, a written test, warrior tasks, an appearance board and finally concluded with a 12-mile road march Sunday morning.
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Positive attitude pushes Soldier through Best Warrior Competition

Four mentally and physically grueling days proved to be a challenge for Spc. Micah Lancaster, but through it all he came out with a smile on his face.

The 2014 Best Warrior Competition was held April 10-13 at Fort McCoy, Wis. - a place known for having its own weather patterns. Competitors had to deal with temperatures between 26 and 56 degrees, with rain and hail making for chilly mornings, continuing throughout the day into night land navigation courses. With varying conditions between the weather, rough terrain and uncertainty of schedule changes, the events Soldiers were put through were difficult, to say the least.

The Best Warrior Competition consisted of a road march, physical fitness test, stress fire, Army knowledge formal board, essays and many other Army warrior skills to test the endurance of each Soldier and ultimately find the Best Warrior in the Wisconsin National Guard.

Being in the National Guard for only two years, Lancaster’s passion is playing the French horn. A member of the 132nd Army Band, the 24-year-old persevered through all the events with optimism even after being injured at one of them.
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Wisconsin Guard members compete for Best Warrior honors

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — At 5 a.m. today (April 11), 15 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers representing units across the state began their day with push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run — the first three events in a demanding three-day gauntlet that will test their abilities in marksmanship, physical fitness and endurance, land navigation, Soldiers skills and military bearing. The grueling schedule will also test each competitor's composure.

These Soldiers are competing for the prestige of being the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Best Warrior and Best Noncommissioned Officer. Winners will advance to compete against National Guard Soldiers from six other states at the regional event next month at Camp Ripley, Minn.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard has enjoyed success in recent years, sending competitors to the National Guard Bureau's Best Warrior Competition in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013.
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Milwaukee renames street in honor of fallen Guardsman

Ten years ago on the night of April 9, 2004, Spc. Michelle Witmer and her sister, Rachel headed out on a patrol through Baghdad. Members of different squads within the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 32nd Military Police Company, Rachel’s vehicle turned one direction, and Michelle’s headed another.

Spc. Michelle Witmer, of New Berlin, Wis., manned the gunner’s seat in her vehicle. A short time later, the street erupted with small arms fire. A rocket-propelled grenade struck one of the patrol’s vehicles. Gunmen opened fire and a bullet struck Witmer — killing her almost instantly.

Witmer became the first female in the history of the National Guard and the first Wisconsin National Guardsman in almost 60 years to be killed in combat.
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Midwest Airmen share emergency management know-how
VOLK FIELD, Wis. - Six units from four states combined their emergency management skills during a field training exercise at Volk Field, April 2-6.

The 115th Fighter Wing, 133rd Air Wing, 148th Fighter Wing, 183rd Fighter Wing, 934th Air Wing and 127th Fighter Wing started planning for this year's field training exercise in November 2013.

"We started planning early to ensure we could all train together this year," said Senior Master Sgt. Kelvin McCuskey, 148th FW installation emergency manager. "The last time we were able to train together was in 2012."

The emergency management leaders from each unit used conference calls, Defense Connect Online and email to secure training dates and plan the week's training exercises.
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Wisconsin Guard sends second artillery unit to Afghanistan
A second Wisconsin Army National Guard high mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) battery departed for Fort Bliss, Texas, en route to conducting a fire support mission in Afghanistan.

"An artillery battery being selected to perform an artillery mission overseas - does it get any better than that, Alpha Battery?" Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Shields, the Wisconsin Army National Guard's senior noncommissioned officer, asked members of the Sussex, Wis.-based Battery A, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery Regiment during an April 2 sendoff ceremony held at the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee.

The mission is notable because, in the global war on terror, National Guard field artillery units have rarely been assigned field artillery missions. In fact, the first National Guard field artillery battery to do so was Battery A's sister unit from Plymouth, Wis.
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Weather Day at Miller Park is a STEP above
As 8,000 screaming fans filed into Miller Park Wednesday morning, they could see the Milwaukee Brewers Famous Racing Sausages on the field, smell the fresh green grass and hear the music pulsing through the stadium. But these were no ordinary fans - they were all students and teachers from southeastern Wisconsin attending Weather Day at Miller Park.

Weather Day provides students an opportunity to learn about seasons, precipitation, climates and storms in a fun environment. Participants are divided into two teams, and questions were asked on the jumbo screen, along with videos and demonstrations on the field. The event was sponsored by the Milwaukee Brewers and WTMJ-TV, whose meteorologists were the hosts.

"This is pretty cool," said student Annie Bartosz from Hartland, Wis. "My team has been getting a lot right!"
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Sexual assault has no place here, Wisconsin National Guard leaders say

The Wisconsin National Guard chose the first day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month to formally introduce Falcon, a certified service dog trained to interact with physical and sexual trauma victims who has been assigned to the Wisconsin National Guard's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) team.

But where Falcon is a friendly and welcoming canine, senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders are taking a more aggressive approach regarding sexual assault within its ranks.

"It ought to be fairly simple for an organization like ours, that puts core values at the center of everything that we do," said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin. "There's just no place in our organization for sexual assault. It really is that simple."

Dunbar and his senior leaders for the Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard made a point of presenting that message to every member of the organization last year. In addition, Gov. Scott Walker will soon sign an amendment to the Wisconsin Code of Military Justice that aligns it more closely with the federal Uniform Code of Military Justice concerning sexual assaults.
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Wisconsin National Guard provides communications support in Alaska disaster exercises

VALDEZ, Alaska — A communications team from the Wisconsin National Guard's 128th Air Control Squadron, in conjunction with Valdez Emergency Management and National Guard units from other states, provided communications support in Valdez Saturday. The team set up a Joint Incident Site Communications Capability at the Alaska National Guard Armory in Valdez and provided communications support to the local emergency operations center and other National Guard units.

As part of the overall remembrance of the 1964 "Good Friday" earthquake, the 128th ACS's JISCC team participated in Exercise Alaska Shield and Vigilant Guard-Alaska 2014. VG-AK14 is a regional, tactically focused exercise and will have multiple interagency field-training exercises that are focused on the response and recovery from a major earthquake and tsunami. VG-AK14 is an exercise conducted to ensure the state of Alaska and the nation are prepared and ready to respond to catastrophic events.

The scenario in Valdez revolved around an earthquake and subsequent tsunami that caused significant damage and injured many residents to the point that the city required outside assistance, which included communications support after the disaster shut down all telephone and internet connectivity.
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Wisconsin Guard engineer unit preparing for duty in Afghanistan

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders joined families and friends of the approximately 160-person 829th Engineer Company in a formal sendoff ceremony March 28 at Fort McCoy, Wis.

The 829th is a vertical engineer company in Chippewa Falls, Wis., with detachments in Ashland, Wis., and Richland Center, Wis. But rather than erecting buildings, the unit will take down structures on forward operating bases in Afghanistan as part of the responsible drawdown of U.S. forces there. In doing so, the unit will reclaim as much material as possible to save taxpayer money and prevent such materials from being acquired by enemy forces in Afghanistan.

Capt. Kyle Gruber, 829th Engineer Company commander, said he has devoted the past year to preparing his unit for this mission with training missions in El Salvador and innovative readiness training projects in northern Wisconsin, as well as three weeks dedicated to warrior task training at Fort McCoy.

"I am fully impressed and humbled at the dedication, motivation and fierce loyalty displayed each and every day by every one of our Soldiers," Gruber said during the ceremony. Turning to Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin's adjutant general, he continued: "First Sergeant and I are very pleased, and Sir, I wholeheartedly report today that my intent has been accomplished and we are ready to mobilize."

Roughly half of the unit has prior deployment experience. 1st Sgt. Brian Kelly of Holmen, Wis., said those experienced Soldiers were providing guidance for the younger Soldiers who are deploying for the first time. Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, deputy adjutant general for Army, encouraged the young Soldiers of the 829th to soak up their advice.

"You have been preparing for this for the past 12 to 14 months - but to be quite honest, you've been preparing for it your entire military career," Anderson said. "Seek their experience and glean everything you can. Rely on your training. What you have gained in knowledge and skills and experience during your time in uniform will serve you well as you serve the country over in Afghanistan."
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Wisconsin Challenge Academy open house slated for Milwaukee
Wisconsin Challenge Academy representatives will conduct an informational session Wednesday (March 26) for potential applicants to the academy’s next class, which begins July 23. The event will be held at the Best Western PLUS Hotel, 5105 S Howell Ave, from 6-8 p.m.

Challenge Academy staff members, cadets, and parents of cadets will be available to speak with teens and parents who have an interest in the academy and to assist them with the application process. At 6:30 p.m., an overview of the Challenge Academy will be provided, giving the audience insight and understanding of program requirements. The general public, educators, health and social services personnel, and juvenile justice officers are also welcome to attend.

The Challenge Academy offers “at-risk” youth the opportunity to change the direction of their lives. Challenge Academy cadets participate in the academy’s eight core components: academic instruction with the opportunity to earn a Wisconsin High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED); job skills training; physical fitness; health, hygiene and nutrition; leadership; life-coping skills; responsible citizenship; and service to community. There is no cost for students or their families to attend the Challenge Academy.
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Deploying engineers training at Fort McCoy
FORT MCCOY, Wis. - More than 160 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers of the 829th Engineer Company trained here in March in preparation for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

The company conducted their annual training, which mainly consisted of warrior tasks and drills, to prepare themselves for their pre-mobilization training at Fort Bliss, Texas, explained Capt. Kyle Gruber, commander of the 829th Engineer Company.

Gruber also stated that after the unit’s pre-mobilization is complete, it will move out to Afghanistan, where the Soldiers will begin their mission of tearing down old buildings and recovering unused equipment from past deployments.
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Wisconsin National Guard employment initiative celebrates 500th job placement
The Wisconsin National Guard's Wisconsin Employment Resource Connection (WERC) announced its 500th successful job placement at a March 19 press conference at the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs in Madison, Wis.

"It's been an amazing journey," Capt. Joseph Ledger, WERC manager, said. "We called this press conference to announce our 500th hire - in my eyes, I look at it as 500 lives changed."

Technically 530 lives, as the employment case managers at four locations across the state enjoyed an especially productive two weeks. The average hourly wage for WERC job placements is $17.

Sgt. 1st Class Jim Reynolds, of Waukesha, Wis., became number 500 when he was hired by Milwaukee-based Optimum Vehicle Logistics as a service and sales technician. Reynolds is retiring from the Wisconsin Army National Guard after two deployments and 23 years of military service.
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Command Chief offers guidance for warrant officers' broadening role
According to Chief Warrant Officer 5 John Freeman, the Wisconsin Army National Guard's command chief warrant officer, times — and perceptions — are changing for warrant officers.

Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, recently added a senior warrant officer to his staff as a primary advisor on warrant officer issues. Freeman — who serves as an advisor to Wisconsin National Guard senior leadership on warrant officer issues — said this signals a change in the duties and responsibilities of the warrant officer at the highest levels of the Army.

"Historically, the warrant officer cohort's roles and responsibilities have been fairly narrow in focus, because warrant officers are subject-matter experts in their respective fields or disciplines," Freeman said. "Right or wrong, the roles of today's warrant officer are being broadened.
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One current, two retired Guard members to enter Army Guard Hall of Honor
Three outstanding Guard Soldiers -- two retired and one still serving -- have been selected to enter the prestigious Wisconsin Army National Guard Hall of Honor. This marks the first time a non-retired service member has been inducted.

A special committee of current and past Guard Soldiers selected retired Col. Michael Fonger of Cottage Grove, Wis., retired Col. Michael J. Williams of Fort Atkinson, Wis., and 1st Sgt. Gregory Fulton -- a Silver Star recipient -- of Arbor Vitae, Wis., to receive one of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's highest honors for exceptional achievement and devotion to duty.

They join the ranks of 51 individuals previously inducted into the Hall of Honor.
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Wisconsin Air Guardsmen takes top award in Air Force media contest
Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue, a member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing based in Madison, Wis., was named the U.S. Air Force's Military Broadcast Journalist of the Year in the 56th annual Air Force Media Contest.

LaDue, currently on assignment as news director and combat correspondent with the Air National Guard's Training and Education Center's Media and Engagement Division at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base near Knoxville, Tenn., also took second place in the Television News Report category for a broadcast story he produced during a 2013 deployment about a joint health program between the United States and Uganda.

"Honestly, these awards provide a great amount of personal pride and satisfaction to me because they represent a time in my life where I worked hard to excel, both personally and professionally," LaDue said. " At the same time, I almost feel guilty for being recognized for serving a public affairs mission that I'm so passionate about."
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Mobile maintenance teams ensure Guard’s readiness
A Kenosha, Wis.-based Wisconsin Army National Guard unit travelled to Milwaukee March 1 to test a new method of servicing weapons and electronics for a fellow Guard unit.

Company B of the 257th Brigade Support Battalion sent 13 Soldiers from the company's electronics and armament sections to provide checks and services on a variety of equipment belonging to the 157th Headquarters Company.

In the past, the 157th Headquarters, located at the Richards Street Armory in Milwaukee, was required to coordinate and transport their equipment to maintenance shops. This method didn't ensure the quickest turnaround, which is critical when the equipment is needed for future training.
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Two Wisconsin National Guard units deploying to Afghanistan
Two units from the Wisconsin Army National Guard will deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom this spring.

Sussex, Wis.-based Battery A of the 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery Regiment and the 829th Engineer Company, headquartered in Chippewa Falls, Wis., will both deploy on separate missions. The 829th Engineer Company has detachments in Ashland, Wis., and Richland Center, Wis.

Battery A’s mission will be to provide artillery fire support for coalition forces operating in Afghanistan. They will become the second Wisconsin Army National Guard artillery battery to conduct a combat fires mission in Afghanistan after the Plymouth, Wis.-based Battery B of the 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery Regiment became the first in 2013. Approximately 80 Soldiers will deploy with the high mobility artillery rocket system unit.
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Air Force restructuring plan would impact Wisconsin Air Guard
The U.S. Air Force announced the budget plan for fiscal year 2015 that would eliminate 39 Wisconsin Air National Guard positions beginning in October 2014.

If approved by Congress, the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center in Camp Douglas, Wis., would eliminate nine full-time positions and 14 drill-status Guard positions under the proposed restructuring plan, while the Milwaukee-based 128th Air Refueling Wing would lose 16 drill-status Guard positions. The total number of Wisconsin Air National Guardsmen would be reduced to 2,261 as a result of this action.

The positions would be eliminated from a variety of career fields.
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Red Arrow prepping for unique mission
FORT HOOD, Texas – When 65 Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard leave for the Middle East in a few short weeks, they will become a key component of U.S. military operations in the region.

Senior leaders from the Wisconsin Army National Guard and the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team visited those Soldiers as they prepared here to deploy to Kuwait and Jordan. Two teams from the 32nd – the Military Engagement Team [MET] and the Base Defense Operations Center [BDOC] – were at Fort Hood for their pre-mobilization train-up.

The base defense operations center team will be responsible for mission command of security operations and camp operations in Kuwait, while the military engagement team will travel to as many as 18 different countries in the region to build military partnerships, share best practices in maintenance, logistics and communications, and reinforce positive relations. The MET will work with militaries from countries like Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Tajikistan and Oman.
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Small Wisconsin Army Guard unit mobilizes for Afghanistan
Gov. Scott Walker and senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders joined families and friends in sending off a small but unique unit for an important mission to Afghanistan.

Detachment 52 Operational Support Airlift Command, consisting of six warrant officer pilots and a noncommissioned officer in charge of flight operations, will fly a C26 two-engine airplane to deliver critical personnel throughout Afghanistan and the surrounding region in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

According to Detachment 52 commander Chief Warrant Officer 4 Arthur Hebblewhite, the deployment won't be much different from what the pilots did stateside.
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Emergency responders, Guard team up for disaster training scenario
National Guardsmen and civilian emergency management agencies teamed up at the historic Richards Street Armory in Milwaukee Feb. 28 to discuss a notional tornado and hazardous materials response scenario.

The tabletop exercise - which featured a tornado touchdown in Mequon, Wis., and a subsequent train derailment and hazardous materials spill - forced National Guardsmen from the Milwaukee-based 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and their civil emergency counterparts to work together in a simulated National Guard call-up.

The exercise marked the first time the 157th worked directly with civilian emergency responders in a training scenario. Conceptual plans existed before, but the brigade had never walked through a full-scale scenario with civilian agencies in the same room.
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Cajun Care allows Wisconsin Air Guard members opportunity for real-world training
ABBEVILLE, La. - For 10 straight days, National Guard Airmen from more than a dozen different units across the United States - to include the Madison, Wis.-based 115th Fighter Wing - helped Louisiana residents with their health, dental and optometry needs.

A group of 15 service members from various units were the first to set up for Cajun Care 2014, which took place in Abbeville, La., Feb. 25-March 6.

"We came down three days prior to the arrival of the main body," said Senior Master Sgt. James F. McCloskey of the 177th Medical Group and Cajun Care 2014 noncommissioned officer in charge. "The early arrival gave us time to prepare."
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Wisconsin Soldier represents Badger State at National Guard biathlon
Just because the 2014 Olympics in Sochi are over doesn't mean old man winter has closed his doors to competition.

At least that is the mindset one Wisconsin Soldier took with him to Jericho, Vt., where he is representing the Badger state in the 2014 Chief, National Guard Bureau Biathlon Championships currently underway.

Spc. Gregory Lewandowski finished the 10k Sprint race — the first of four events — Sunday with an official time of 44:35.6, placing him in the top half of the pack at 31st of 72 senior men finishers.
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Wisconsin Guard food service section hopes victory is on the menu
OAK CREEK, Wis. - Below freezing temperatures. A gentle snowfall. The hum of military generators muffled slightly by a formation of military tents.

Only the steady Saturday afternoon traffic along a main street in this Milwaukee suburb, visible behind the tents and generators, contradicted the idea that the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Headquarters Company, 257th Brigade Support Battalion, was preparing their evening meal in a tactical environment.

Even with being in the front yard of their own armory, setting up to compete in the 46th Phillip A. Connelly Awards Program was not an easy undertaking for the unit's food service section. Preparation for the March 1 evaluation began the previous Monday, with contractors plowing a season's worth of snow from the armory grounds.
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New information system alerts public on military night flights
MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing will conduct training flights at night March 3 and 4. Area residents may see or hear F-16 fighter jets taking off or landing until approximately 9 p.m.

Training flights normally occur during daylight hours, but pilots and maintenance personnel are required to conduct nighttime operations as part of their overall readiness.

Pilots will follow flight paths designed to minimize noise to area residents.
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Wisconsin National Guard publication named best in class

"This is obviously a great honor, and a tremendous validation from our professional peers in the public affairs field," said Maj. Paul Rickert, public affairs director for the Wisconsin National Guard. "A publication like this is not an individual effort — it's really like a collective exercise, where everyone contributes to the final product. This award is possible because of the skills of our Soldiers and Airmen who tell the story of the Wisconsin National Guard."

Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general, expressed his pleasure at the news.
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Wisconsin Air Guard security team returns home

Twenty-six security forces Airman from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing, Madison, Wis., were welcomed home from a deployment to United Arab Emirates March 2 by Gov. Scott Walker, state military leadership and their families.

"We are appreciative of what they have done," Walker said. "The National Guard is vitally important and we are thankful for your service and the support of your families."

The Airmen deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. Two 13-person squads provided base security during the six-month deployment.
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Wisconsin Guard expands, combines traditions with All Saints Celebration

Much like the ceremonial bowl of grog, proud and long-standing traditions blended together Feb. 22 for the Wisconsin Army National Guard's inaugural All Saints Celebration.

The idea to make a single, formal dining and recognition event for all branches of the Army came from Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, deputy adjutant general for Army. The goal, he said, was simple: continue to build camaraderie and esprit de corps within and among the various branches of the Wisconsin Army National Guard.
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Wisconsin Air Guard medical personnel to provide real-world care in support of Cajun Care 2014

MADISON, Wis. — Air National Guard medical professionals from the 115th Fighter Wing departed Monday (Feb. 24) to participate in an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission called Cajun Care in Abbeville, La., Feb. 23-March 7.

Their mission is to provide medical, dental, pharmaceutical and ophthalmology services to residents from Abbeville and the surrounding areas during one of the Department of Defense's largest community outreach efforts in the South.

According to Lt. Col. Jamie Ruffing, Cajun Care mission commander, the primary IRT mission is to ensure U.S. military medical professionals are able to rapidly establish a functional medical facility. The benefits their efforts will bring to the local community cannot be understated.

"We fully expect to become part of the community," Ruffing said. "This will be our home for two weeks, and the people of Abbeville and the surrounding communities will be our neighbors."

Once the group arrives in Abbeville, they'll be responsible for setting up medical facilities and providing multiple services to the local community. Medical services will include nursing evaluations, blood glucose monitoring and Hemoglobin A1C testing. Dental services will include assessments, extractions, fillings and cleanings. Eye exams and spectacle manufacturing are scheduled to be offered, and a pharmacy will dispense prescriptions deemed necessary to those assessed by the medical team.

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Wisconsin Guard leaders engage children of deploying Soldiers
CAMP WILLIAMS, Wis. - While nothing can replace a mother or father in uniform deploying halfway across the world for up to a year, the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation is hoping a plush toy dog named "GI Josh" can soften the pains of separation.

During the Feb. 22 sendoff ceremony for 65 members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar - Wisconsin adjutant general - held up a GI Josh and asked the children in attendance if they had received one yet.

"I want you to take lots and lots of pictures of where you're at with this dog," Dunbar said. "I want you to send those pictures to us, and we'll share them with Lt. Gov. [Rebecca] Kleefisch, U.S. Sen. [Tammy] Baldwin, and with our brave men and women overseas."
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Wisconsin Guard Soldiers depart Wisconsin en route to Middle East deployment
CAMP WILLIAMS, Wis. - Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general, and senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders joined families and friends at a formal sendoff ceremony for 65 Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers Saturday (Feb. 22).

The Soldiers - members of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team - will deploy as two teams formed specifically for this deployment. The Military Engagement Team (MET) will take its Soldiers to Kuwait and Jordan, and the base Defense Operations Center (BDOC) will take its Soldiers to Kuwait, where they will augment active duty Soldiers.

"I'm excited," said Capt. Aaron Greisen of Madison, Wis., deploying with the base defense team. "It really is a great experience, not only for me but for the young Soldiers who are going to get to see a different part of the world."
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Wisconsin Guard members hit the road in winter storm response
It was a windy, snowy day - and night - for some Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers who patrolled state roadways and aided a stranded vehicle as part of the Guard's response to a strong winter storm Feb. 20-21.

Four Soldiers and two tactical vehicles from the Wisconsin National Guard armory in Hayward, Wis., were dispatched Friday to assist a stranded motorist four miles north of Hayward on Highway 63. Civilian tow trucks were unable to reach the vehicle.

Thursday night, six Soldiers and three vehicles - a light medium tactical vehicle, medium tactical vehicle and a military wrecker - from the armory in Spooner, Wis., assisted the Wisconsin State Patrol by conducting a health and welfare patrol at waysides by Chetek, Wis., and New Auburn, Wis., on Route 14.
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Wisconsin National Guard calling 140 members to state duty for winter storm
Gov. Scott Walker has called the Wisconsin National Guard to state active duty ahead of a strong winter storm that could bring more than 12 inches of snow and freezing rain, and winds up to 50 miles per hour.

Walker declared a state of emergency at 6 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 19), which authorizes Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general, to activate the National Guard.

The Wisconsin National Guard will stage 10 winter force packages, consisting of approximately 140 Guard members and equipment in seven-person teams, with seven force packages in the northwest and three force packages in the southeast areas of the state. They will to augment local authorities with manpower and mobility, performing such emergency response duties as rendering aid to stranded motorists and performing welfare checks in affected areas. They will provide 24-hour coverage in 12-hour shifts.
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A statement from the Wisconsin Adjutant General to the entire military family
To all veterans, current serving military members, family members, those who have lost loved ones in service to our nation, and in particular our Gold Star families:

The recently revealed inappropriate photos and commentary posted to a social media site by a Soldier under my command are unacceptable. I am taking this matter very seriously. Upon learning of this incident, I ordered an investigation and we will wait until that is concluded to evaluate appropriate action.

Military funeral honors are a sacred trust, and that is why this issue has generated such a public outcry. The general public is understandably upset, and I understand the anger and response that it has caused. For those of us who wear or have worn the cloth of our nation's uniform, this story cuts like a knife. I fully understand why so many veterans have expressed outrage. Lastly, I am acutely aware of the pain that this story must have caused for our Gold Star family members.

I deeply regret the pain this has caused, and personally apologize to the entire military family.

Donald P. Dunbar
Maj Gen, Wisconsin National Guard
The Adjutant General

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Out-of-state training expands opportunities for Wisconsin Air Guard unit
KEY WEST, Fla. — Airmen assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing deployed to Key West, Fla., in support of an F-16 Fighting Falcon training mission Feb. 1-14.

The two-week deployment allowed pilots to train against dissimilar aircraft. It ensured flights wouldn't get canceled due to snow storms or weather advisories, it saved wear and tear on the F-16s, and it allowed more than 100 Airmen the opportunity for real-world training in their areas of expertise.

Airman 1st Class Nate Hamilton, 115th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, was one of the Airmen selected for the temporary duty deployment.

"I can't believe I got chosen," Hamilton said. "It has been a great learning experience."
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Wisconsin National Guard investigating military funeral honors controversy
The Wisconsin National Guard became aware late Feb. 17 of controversial and distasteful photos and comments related to military funeral honors posted on social media websites.

One photo shows a group of Soldiers - including one from the Wisconsin Army National Guard - in Army Combat Uniforms, posing disrespectfully around a flag-draped training casket. The caption for another photo suggests that the cold weather at a military funeral may result in a poor folding of the U.S. flag to be presented.

The photos appeared on a social media site that belonged to Spc. Terry Harrison - a member of the Madison, Wis.-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment. The group photo with the training casket was taken at the Professional Education Center, a National Guard training facility in North Little Rock, Ark.

Harrison has been indefinitely suspended from the funeral honors detail pending an investigation into the matter.
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Wisconsin Air Guardsmen vie for national honors
Six Airmen hailing from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's three bases will compete against their peers from across the country for the chance to be named the 2014 Air National Guard Outstanding Airman of the Year.

The Wisconsin Outstanding Airmen for 2014 include Airman 1st Class Jonathan Vargas of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Airman of the Year; Tech. Sgt. Scott Daentl of Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Noncommissioned Officer of the Year; Master Sgt. Christian Schweitzer of the 115th Fighter Wing, Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year; Master Sgt. Linda Schwartzlow of the 128th Air Control Squadron, First Sergeant of the Year; Master Sgt. David Coker of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Honor Guard Program Manager; and Senior Master Sgt. Patricia Gross, Honor Guard Member.

According to Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Cullen, the Wisconsin Air National Guard's top enlisted member, the six were selected based on their achievements during the 2013 calendar year — including their primary job accomplishments, self-improvement, community service, physical fitness and a records review. The candidates also wrote about being a professional in the Wisconsin Air National Guard.
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LinkedIn expert shares tips for job searching with vets, Guardsmen
Veterans, Wisconsin National Guardsmen and military spouses seeking employment got a boost Feb. 12 if they attended the Wisconsin Employment Resource Connection workshop in Brookfield, Wis.

The workshop, held at Westmoor Country Club, featured nationally renowned LinkedIn expert Wayne Breitbarth, who donated his time and spent two hours sharing tips on how to master the online professional networking website. Breitbarth's tutorial also aimed to help service managers who assist veterans in finding employment.

"It's important because LinkedIn is the premiere job seeking tool, and it's not an easy site to navigate on your own," Breitbarth said.

"I just care about these guys," he said of the veterans and service members he hoped to assist. "They helped us, right? So if I can give back a little..."
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Wisconsin engineers power Romanian transit facility development effort
The MK Passenger Transit Center at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania may have been merely a passing-through point for approximately 300 members of the 101st Airborne Division en route to Afghanistan Feb. 3, but it marks a significant achievement for military engineers, including the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 924th Engineer Facilities Detachment.

The temporary air transit facility, built in about five weeks, accommodates U.S. troops heading to or departing from European and Central Asian operating areas by providing essential logistical, transportation, reintegration and morale and welfare services. Staffed by 350 people, the transit center can handle up to 2,000 troops through the end of 2014, or the completion of current missions.

"This is one of several transportation hubs that will ensure our war fighters get into and out of theater quickly, safely and efficiently, ready to execute missions or reintegrate into their families, units and communities as the case may be," said Lt. Col. Wayne Marotto of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command. "We envision this as a temporary facility, but it's vital to the mission."
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Wisconsin's National Guard, Emergency Management partner to facilitate youth disaster education, preparedness
School children from across Wisconsin are likely familiar with the frigid temperatures this winter season - if for no other reason than the above-average amount of school cancellations and temperatures that will make even the tiniest of nostrils freeze together.

For thousands of Wisconsin's 5th-grade students, familiarity will soon turn to education with help from the Wisconsin National Guard, Wisconsin Emergency Management, volunteers from AT&T and other state and federal entities, who partnered to provide learning materials and supplies to nearly 150 schools across the state.

"The real key to this program are the emergency kits so every child gets a starter emergency kit." said Tod Pritchard, public information officer for WEM. "It really jumpstarts that conversation that's so desperately needed in homes all across the state - we all really need to think about 'What would we do if there's an emergency … are we prepared?'"
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Wisconsin National Guard garners public affairs awards
Two Airmen in the Wisconsin Air National Guard have earned top honors in the National Guard Bureau Media Contest.

Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue of the Madison, Wis.-based 115th Fighter Wing, took first place in the Television News Report category for a broadcast story he produced during a 2013 deployment about a joint health program between the United States and Uganda.

LaDue was also named the National Guard Bureau's Air Force Military Broadcast Journalist of the Year. This marks the second straight year the top winner in that category has hailed from the Wisconsin Air National Guard — last year, Tech. Sgt. James Michaels of the Milwaukee-based 128th Air Refueling Wing won that title.
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Wisconsin Guard unit gives public affairs boost to Kosovo Battle Group in Germany
HOHENFELS, Germany - The 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, based out of Madison, Wis., left for Hohenfels, Germany, Jan. 16 to provide public affairs support during a training exercise for Soldiers preparing for a nine-month deployment to Kosovo.

Some of the Soldiers training here will replace the Soldiers currently deployed to Kosovo as part of the Kosovo Forces 18 mission. KFOR has been a part of NATO efforts to support peace in Kosovo since June 1999. The Soldiers of KFOR 18 will be continuing the NATO mission to provide a safe and secure environment in Kosovo while ensuring freedom of movement throughout the country.
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Wisconsin Guard unit honored as National Guard's best artillery battery
The Plymouth, Wis.-based Battery B, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery of the Wisconsin Army National Guard - also known as the Bravo Barracudas - received the 2013 Hamilton Alexander Award during a Wednesday night ceremony at the National Guard Professional Education Center in North Little Rock, Ark.

The Alexander Hamilton Award recognizes the year's outstanding National Guard field artillery battery for superb mission accomplishment and overall unit excellence.

"It was an honor to receive the award, and it was nice to be recognized by your peers," said Capt. Matthew Mangerson, Battery B commander, who accepted the award on behalf of the unit. "It means something to have the unit recognized at that level - not just for the battery but for our battalion and for the state of Wisconsin."
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Wisconsin Guard program supports veterans job fair in Milwaukee
More than 200 veterans - including more than a dozen Wisconsin Employment Resource Connection (WERC) participants - and approximately 70 employers were brought together Jan. 16 at the Goodwill James O. Wright Center on Milwaukee's northwest side for a recent "Hiring Our Heroes" job fair.

According to Capt. Joseph Ledger, the employment assistance program manager with WERC, the job fair allowed WERC participants to meet with employers in a professional manner, submit resumes and use their "30-second elevator speech" - a self-marketing technique designed to improve their chances of being hired.
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Symposium aims to deepen Wisconsin Army Guard officer bench
MILWAUKEE - If the Wisconsin Army National Guard was a major-league baseball team, it would be trying to bolster its roster by calling up hot prospects from its farm system.

And on a recent Saturday at Miller Park, those prospects consisted of 30 noncommissioned officers - major-leaguers in their own right - who converged for an Officer Candidate /Warrant Officer Candidate Symposium.

"We have to realize [the importance of] that relationship - the relationship between the warrants, the NCOs and the commissioned officers," said Lt. Col. Michael Murphy, commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Recruiting and Retention Battalion. "We are one unit working together to get the mission done."
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Fifth child from same family enlists in Wisconsin Army National Guard
With six family members currently enlisted - a father and five adult children - Shanle might become a familiar name in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

As her family looked on, the fifth and final Shanle child, Antonia Marie, took her oath of enlistment Tuesday (Jan. 21) at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Milwaukee.

"Congratulations - you are now a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard," said Maj. Craig Jansen of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Recruiting and Retention Battalion after administering the oath. "Now, there are no more Shanles to enlist?"

Antonia's father, Staff Sgt. Ray Shanle, is a Wisconsin Army National Guard recruiter based in Green Bay. But to hear Antonia's mother Lorianne tell the story, the real family recruiter is her father, retired command sergeant major Lawrence Murray, who completed 30 years in the Wisconsin Army National Guard as the senior enlisted member of the 32nd Brigade.
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Five Soldiers honored at UW men's basketball game
MADISON, Wis. - Soldiers are often recognized for the military awards they receive, time in service or if they were injured during combat, but on Saturday Jan 18, five Wisconsin Army National Guard members were honored for their service in civilian life.

Lt. Col. Michael Murphy, Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Kuechenmeister, Sgt. Cassandra Kautzmann, Sgt. Michael Sentkowski and Sgt. Bradley Bartha were recognized at the UW-Wisconsin Men's Badger basketball game at the Kohl Center. Through the Wisconsin National Guard's Recruiting and Retention Battalion, the five were nominated based on their civilian occupations and volunteer activities.
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Streamlined process keeps Wisconsin Soldiers ‘Always Ready’
CAMP DOUGLAS, Wis. - ‘Always Ready, Always There,’ isn’t just a catchphrase for the National Guard. It is the result of maintaining the readiness of an organization that can be called upon at a moment’s notice to respond to an emergency here in Wisconsin or deploy to far-flung locales around the world.

In the Wisconsin Army National Guard, they take that duty seriously, and as a result, the state’s Army Guard consistently ranks in the top 10 nationwide for the overall readiness of its troops.
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Wisconsin adjutant general to chair National Governors' advisory council
Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general, has been named chairman of the National Governors Association Homeland Security Advisory Council (GHSAC).

"It's a privilege to serve as Gov. Walker's Homeland Security Advisor, which complements my responsibilities commanding the Wisconsin National Guard and leading Wisconsin Emergency Management," Dunbar said. "The GHSAC is a diverse group of professionals who represent the nation's governors in the Homeland Security enterprise. I am honored to serve as the chair and to work these difficult issues alongside my colleagues in collaboration with federal and local agencies and the private sector."

The advisory council, formed in 2006, provides a platform for homeland security advisors from each state, territory and Washington, D.C., to discuss and share homeland security information and to keep governors informed of issues impacting homeland security policies at the state or territory level. It meets twice each year - once in Washington, D.C., and once in a select state - and convenes every two weeks via conference call.
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Wisconsin engineers plan for success in Romania
A 15-Soldier engineer unit from the Wisconsin Army National Guard will lay the groundwork for troops on the last leg of their journeys to Afghanistan and other locations around the world.

The team from the Chippewa Falls, Wis.-based 924th Engineer Facilities Detachment left for Romania this week to begin site work for a new forward operating site from which planes carrying troops bound for Afghanistan will make their final stop before arriving at their destination.

Known as Forward Operating Site Mihail Kogalniceanu - or FOS MK, the former Romanian Airbase near the Black Sea will eventually replace its predecessor at Manas, Kyrgyzstan. In the process, the base will take on a vitally important mission and swell from a current size of approximately 300 personnel to the capability to handle 3,000 people.
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Wisconsin National Guard Airmen launch fitness program
MADISON, Wis. - Listen to the radio, watch a TV show or simply have a conversation with friends. Odds are the topic of weight loss will come up when New Year's resolutions are discussed.

Conversations between Airmen at the 115th Fighter Wing are a little different. Yes, they are still talking about exercising and eating right, but losing weight isn't their main objective - passing their physical fitness test is.

"I've always had a passion for fitness," said Tech. Sgt. Melanie McDonald, 115th FW Fitness Working Group organizer and coach. "I see a lot of PT failures and people struggling, so I got together with a couple others and we developed the Fitness Working Group to help each other succeed in our fitness goals."
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Volk Field honors its Hometown Heroes
VOLK FIELD, Wis. - More than 90 Airmen were honored as Hometown Heroes in a Jan. 4 ceremony at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) in front of their families, peers, senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders and local officials.

"These Airmen took time away from their families and work. Each of you being recognized has earned the right to be called a Hometown Hero," said Col. David Romuald, Volk Field CRTC commander.

The National Guard Hometown Heroes Salute program recognized Airmen who have deployed in support of Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom for more than 30 days.
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Good deed inspires unbelievable fishing tale
The sport of fishing is rife with stories of monster walleye that got away, muskies that snapped lures and lines, and perhaps the occasional exaggeration or falsehood. But one recent Wisconsin fishing tale had truth to it, though it too was unbelievable.

Jason Duncan, of Tomah, Wis., planned to spend Dec. 22 ice fishing on Tomah Lake. He planned to take his two sons out along with his girlfriend's two sons in an effort to introduce them to the sport he loved.

On Dec. 21, Duncan setup a permanent shack on the ice. Knowing he'd be back first thing the following morning with his children, he left many of his supplies in the shack overnight. Upon arriving early the next morning, Duncan and his oldest son noticed the door swinging open. They had been robbed.

Poles, tackle boxes, tip-ups - all gone.
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