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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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