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Wisconsin National Guard - 2015 YEAR END REVIEW GRAPHIC TIMELINE

Gov. Scott Walker directed the Wisconsin National Guard and Wisconsin Emergency Management to once again provide assistance for a special holiday traveler Wednesday night, as he makes his annual rounds through the Badger State.

"This is a mission we look forward to every year," Walker said. "By tasking the Wisconsin National Guard and Wisconsin Emergency Management with providing food and water for the reindeer, along with hot cocoa and weather updates for Santa Claus, we are doing our part to help the jolly old elf deliver presents to all the good boys and girls in Wisconsin."

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Lambeau Field, home of the fabled Green Bay Packers, has many stories to tell of overcoming adversity and achieving greatness.

Approximately 100 Wisconsin Challenge Academy cadets heard individual stories of overcoming personal adversities from Green Bay Packers players and staff during a Dec. 15 visit. Challenge Academy is a program for teens at risk of not graduating high school, and uses a quasi-military setting to instill core values that help cadets make better life choices. The Green Bay Packers have provided positive motivation to Challenge Academy cadets either at Lambeau Field or at the academy campus at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, for the past several years.

MAUSTON, Wis. - One hundred teens once at risk of not graduating high school stood ready to take back control of their lives following the completion of a 22-week residential program at the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy.

"Cadets of Class 35, today is your day," said Kevin Greenwood, Wisconsin Challenge Academy director.

Governor Scott Walker, the commander-in-chief of the Wisconsin National Guard, and Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, offer a holiday message to Wisconsin’s service members and veterans.

Soldiers and families from the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment got an early present this year as almost all of the Soldiers of the unit made it home just in time for the holidays.

One hundred cadets from 39 counties will graduate from the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy in a noon ceremony Saturday (Dec. 19) at Mauston High School in Mauston, Wisconsin.

The Challenge Academy re-shapes the lives of at-risk 16-to-18-year-olds. It uses a structured, military-style environment and state-certified teachers and counselors to build cadets’ academic abilities, character, self-confidence, and personal discipline.

This week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an update to the national terrorism alert system that will include bulletins to notify the public about any concerns or additional security measures. This is the first change to the National Terrorism Advisory (NTAS) since 2011 when the original color-coded system was replaced.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard will partner with the Illinois Army National Guard to stand up a new cyber protection team, Gov. Scott Walker announced Dec. 11.

2015 was a busy year for the Wisconsin Army National Guard, and the men and women of the Guard once again answered the call to provide a ready and effective force both here at home and abroad.

The first two waves of returning Soldiers from the West Bend, Wisconsin-based 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation are now back safely in the United States after a seven-month mobilization to Kuwait.

More than half of the unit returned to Fort Hood, Texas, Dec. 12-14, with the remainder to return at a later date yet to be determined.



This Sunday, we will observe the 379th birthday of the National Guard. The date commemorates “The First Muster,” when three regiments of volunteer militia were formed on Dec. 13, 1636 in Massachusetts Bay Colony for the purpose of becoming a well-trained and capable defense force.

There is a distinct pride that comes with that heritage, belonging to the long line of our homeland’s defenders. This heritage precedes by nearly seven score years the birth of our nation and the establishment of our Army and Navy as a national military.

The early American militia sought to ensure territorial integrity against incursions by domestic or international powers, and today’s Army and Air National Guard also defend the homeland against foreign and domestic threats. In the 21st century, this role has grown to include the cyber realm, and the National Guard is leading the way in building cyber protection teams across the nation, partnering with local, state and federal agencies in safeguarding critical infrastructure from cyber attacks that could halt or diminish critical services.

The National Guard continues to hone its emergency response role. Beyond responding to devastating stoms, wildfires, floods and civil unrest, the National Guard also has specialized teams to support local authorities in identifying potential weapons of mass destruction as well as rescuing and recovering victims of natural and man-made disasters. We are the nation’s first military responders, and we work closely with local authorities — even conducting periodic and realistic training — to ensure that our response efforts are appropriate to the event. The National Guard’s response to Hurricane Katrina demonstrated how important a trained and ready response force truly is in a large-scale emergency.

And dating back to the Spanish-American War, the National Guard has played an increasingly important role as the nation’s primary combat reserve supporting our overseas operations. During Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, the National Guard validated the Abrams Doctrine of a total force concept — reserve component units serving shoulder-to-shoulder with active duty counterparts. And since 9/11, the National Guard has proven its intrinsic value to our nation by defending our skies, collaborating in multi-agency anti-terror efforts such as Joint Task Force Empire Shield in New York City, and deploying overseas to support such operations as Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn, Freedom’s Sentinel and Inherent Resolve.

Our National Guard has never been better trained or more experienced than it is today. This is fortunate, as our responsibilities to the homeland show no signs of diminishing. But maintaining our readiness to respond where we are needed in a timely manner is not easy. We need quality men and women to fill our ranks. We need the support of families and employers who understand and are willing to sacrifice having their service member at home or on the job in those moments when their state or nation calls. And we need appropriate funding to maintain troop strength and training in a time of increasing peril at home and abroad.

The Citizen-Soldier is part of the fabric of our nation, and embodies the noble characteristic of service before self that has always enabled our nation to endure in good times and bad. 379 years of service is something to be proud of, and I am proud of each and every one of our soldiers and airmen in the Wisconsin National Guard.

Two Wisconsin Army National Guard officers are making history as they blaze a new trail into the state’s field artillery branch.

Soldiers and elected officials met with Wisconsin National Guard leaders at two National Guard armories Saturday (Dec. 5) to discuss the impacts of pending force reductions.

h72273k-150x150.jpgDec. 7 lives on in America’s history because it is one of the moments when time stood still. It was a devastating attack that caught us off guard and ill prepared. It shook our confidence. The next day, Congress approved President Roosevelt’s request for a declaration of war. America joined the fight on two fronts and led the allies to victory in Europe and in the Pacific.

There are many poignant stories about the Pearl Harbor attack. One of the most memorable involves the battleship U.S.S. Arizona. The Arizona was the most heavily damaged battleship on Dec. 7 and she remains submerged in Pearl Harbor to this day. A memorial stands over the ship’s remains to remind us of that day and has come to commemorate all military personnel killed in the attack. The memorial has seven windows on each side and on the roof, which represent a perpetual 21-gun salute. The structure stands tall on both sides and sags in the middle; representing a proud nation before the attack, a sag in the middle as the nation felt the impact of the attack, and a triumphant nation that defeated her enemy.

Following Pearl Harbor, America’s response included a massive military buildup that included mobilization of the Wisconsin National Guard. The 32nd (Red Arrow) Division wrote another chapter in its storied history, which built upon the combat success of World War I, where it earned its nickname, “Les Terribles.” Originally bound for Europe, the division was diverted to the Pacific were it defeated the enemy in the first offensive action on Papua New Guinea and would go on to serve 654 days in combat.

Today, the National Guard remains the primary combat reserve of the United States Army and the United States Air Force, and the nation’s first military responder for domestic emergencies.

On Dec. 7, let us remember and honor those killed in action at Pearl Harbor and honor our greatest generation for their service and victory in World War II. Let us also preserve our nation for future generations by remaining ready and never again being caught ill prepared by an enemy. This is increasingly more difficult in an era of cyber threats and terrorism.

I cannot predict the next moment when time stands still, but it will occur. We must remain steadfast in our preparedness and resolute in preserving our nation’s freedoms.

As the mass shooting was unfolding in San Bernadino, California, local and federal law enforcement officials joined Gov. Scott Walker and Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general and Wisconsin Homeland Security advisor, in urging citizens to report unusual activity in their communities.

Approximately 65 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers serving with Detachment 1, 101st Airborne Division, will mobilize in support of an upcoming deployment to Iraq and Kuwait.

The Wisconsin Soldiers assigned to the 101st are part of a first-ever Army initiative to integrate Soldiers from the National Guard and reserves into a multi-component unit alongside their active duty brethren.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 724th Engineer Battalion made a big impact in two Wisconsin communities in 2015, and as the Soldiers in the unit complete more work, it will leave an even greater lasting legacy in the years to come.

VOLK FIELD, Wis. - In the shadow of the training fields where Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers - ancestors of the 32nd Infantry Division - encamped and trained, members of the Ho-Chunk Nation gathered to continue a decades-old ceremony honoring their veterans.

smDunbar.jpgAt the first Thanksgiving in 1621, pilgrims seeking religious freedom in the New World gathered with Native Americans to celebrate a successful first harvest in Massachusetts. The pilgrims were especially grateful for that successful harvest after the previous year saw a treacherous sea voyage to America, a brutal winter and disease outbreaks that left half of the original passengers and crew dead before founding their settlement.

President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an official American holiday amidst the bloodshed and suffering of the Civil War in hopes that despite the nation’s woes, Americans would pause to remember how lucky they were to call themselves Americans.

Today, in 2015, we have many blessings for which to be grateful. For many of us, Thanksgiving will be a wonderful combination of family, food and football. We are also grateful for the freedoms and liberty we enjoy as Americans made possible through the tireless efforts of our police, firefighters, paramedics, first responders and generations of our nation’s service members from the active and reserve components who sacrificed to ensure that America is the safe and secure. I’m grateful for these courageous men and women as well as their families who have placed the needs of their communities and nation ahead of their own.

As Wisconsin’s adjutant general, I am especially thankful for our National Guard. Much like the first celebration of Thanksgiving, the National Guard predates our nation. The first American militia formed in 1636 in Massachusetts Bay Colony where the pilgrims we celebrate today first settled just 15 years earlier.

Today, the National Guard is a national treasure. It’s a privilege to serve with such outstanding men and women.

I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. God bless you, and may God continue to bless our great nation.


Now into its second decade, the Tribute to Our Troops Tree at the Executive Residence in Maple Bluff, Wisconsin, continues to remind holiday visitors of the men and women in uniform who cannot be home for Christmas.

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Approximately 80 Soldiers and Airmen from the Wisconsin National Guard and dozens of other service members and veterans received a warm ovation from the Lambeau Field faithful as they unfurled a field-sized version of the American flag before the Nov. 15 Green Bay Packers game against the Detroit Lions.

PORTAGE, Wis. — The Wisconsin Employment Resource Connection and Job Connection Education Program (WERC/JCEP) celebrated passing the 1,000th client successfully placed in gainful employment during a brief ceremony last week.

A retired Wisconsin Army National Guardsman received a long-awaited Purple Heart at a Nov. 7 ceremony in Portage, Wisconsin.

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, awarded the medal to Sgt. James Wright, during the ceremony at the Portage National Guard Armory for injuries sustained in combat.

The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress and expected to be approved by the president this week will require the Wisconsin Army National Guard to inactivate three units and result in the loss of 36 full-time positions over the next year and 274 traditional Guard positions statewide over two years.

A cyber attack on the energy sector could be devastating and would be felt at homes, schools, businesses and government as our reliance on technology continues to grow. That’s why the time is now for the private sector and government to come together to prepare and respond to these threats.

“This is a day of celebration.”

Those were among the first words Maj. Gen. William Haan, commander of the 32nd Division, wrote to his wife Margaret the evening of Nov. 11, 1918, hours after the armistice ending “the war to end all wars” took effect.

The 64th Troop Command bid farewell to outgoing commander Col. Julie Gerety and honored her service during a change-of-command ceremony while welcoming new commander, Col. Dennis Konkel, at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Madison, Wisconsin, Sunday.

Konkel previously served as the deputy commander of the 64th Troop Command, which is one of the four major subordinate commands in the Wisconsin Army National Guard including the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, and the 426th Regional Training Institute.

Wisconsin observes Winter Awareness Week Nov. 9-13, a reminder that weather and temperatures will soon combine to make state roadways riskier for travel. Some winter storms promise to pack such a wallop that preemptive measures are called for, which is where the Wisconsin National Guard comes in.

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 ‘Tribute to our Troops’ holiday tree is a unique way for loved ones to honor their service member,” Governor Walker said. “It’s always difficult for our troops to be separated from their families, especially during the holiday season. The ornaments on the tree are a special reminder of the men and women who are protecting us here, as well as abroad.”

MILWAUKEE - Power outages. Crashed government service websites. Pilfered personal information from corporate or government databases. A world increasingly interconnected through the Internet also provides numerous opportunities for individuals or groups to visit malice or mischief upon people, businesses, utilities and government agencies.

The focus of Wisconsin's third annual Cybersecurity Summit was defending the state's operational infrastructure, such as power grids, information databases, communication networks and utilities. But an underlying theme was expanding knowledge of the adversary, of one's own weaknesses, and the difference between an attack and a routine system scan.

Gov. Scott Walker opened the summit by noting that cybersecurity has only become more important over the past two years.

MADISON, Wis. — A bus trip to the state capitol building and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum is a great school field trip, but it’s something more for cadets at the Wisconsin National Guard’s Challenge Academy.

“It reinforces the values of service to community as well as being a responsible citizen,” explained Kevin Greenwood, the Wisconsin Challenge Academy interim director. “We’re trying to get across that it’s important to be involved in government and be an involved citizen.”

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Two retired senior officers who were instrumental in the Wisconsin Military Academy’s transition to the 426th Regional Training Regiment were inducted into the academy’s Hall of Fame during an Oct. 10 ceremony.

Retired Brig. Gen. Scott Legwold was on the Wisconsin Military Academy staff from 1992 through 1998, and shepherded the effort to relocate the academy from the vintage buildings at Camp Williams to a new facility at Fort McCoy 20 years ago, as well as elevating the academy to a Total Army School System institution.

Sage words of advice accompanied the oath of office for nearly two dozen newly minted second lieutenants and warrant officers during a commissioning ceremony Oct. 10 at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

“As you embark as a leader, always remember that it is a privilege to serve,” said Col. Gregory Hirsch, commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 426th Regional Training Regiment, which conducts the officer candidate and warrant officer candidate courses. “In an ever-changing and volatile world, you’ll face daunting challenges. You have my faith that you’ll face these head-on.”

MADISON, Wis. — The 115th Medical Group was the fourth Air National Guard unit to implement a new Physical Health Assessment program on base Oct. 2-4.

After learning about the Quick PHA program from its 133rd Airlift Wing counterparts in St. Paul, Minnesota, the medics put their training to use and processed more than 890 Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing.

WAUPUN, WIS. — The Wisconsin Army National Guard memorialized two fallen Soldiers during a command remembrance ceremony Sunday that named the Waupun National Guard Armory drill hall in their honor.

Sgt. Andrew Wallace and Spc. Michael Wendling of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry were killed Sep. 26, 2005 when an improvised explosive device detonated near their humvee during a convoy operation near Shaibah, Iraq.

LASK AIR BASE, Poland — Airmen from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing were granted a rare opportunity to engage one on one with their Polish counterparts Aug. 27-Sept. 25, as part of U.S. Aviation Detachment Rotation 15-4 at Łask Air Base, Poland.

Hosted by the 52nd Operations Group, Detachment 1, the bilateral training event combined F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft and support personnel from the 115th Fighter Wing with those of the 52nd Fighter Wing from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to train with allied forces from Poland's 6th and 10th Fighter Squadrons.

The medevac business is a little slow these days, but the mission continues around the clock for Wisconsin Army National Guard members of the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment currently deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

The West Bend, Wisconsin-based Soldiers have been working alongside National Guard Soldiers from Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Illinois and Nebraska since mobilization training began in June at Fort Hood, Texas. In order to ensure Army helicopter assets are distributed across the nation, it is not unusual for aviation units to have companies — or detachments of companies — spread across numerous states.

MADISON, Wis. – Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing performed a flyover, known as a missing man formation, over the funeral of Louis C. Martin, a decorated World War II veteran, in Appleton, Wisconsin, at approximately 3 p.m. on Oct. 4.

The flyover, in remembrance of Martin’s distinguished career, met extensive eligibility requirements. The Air Force’s Mortuary Affairs Office approved the request, allowing the 115 FW to conduct the time-honored aerial maneuver.

MILWAUKEE — Gov. Scott Walker, Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders joined community members and families at a Sept. 29 sendoff ceremony for members of the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 128th Air Refueling Wing, who will begin deploying to the Middle East to support Operations Inherent Resolve and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Col. Dan Yenchesky, commander of the Milwaukee-based unit, explained that five KC-135 refuelers and more than 140 Airmen would deploy in a series of rotations beginning Sept. 29 and over several weeks to support the Air Force’s largest combat squadron.

MADISON, Wis. — “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” — William Shakespeare

A handful of Airmen from the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing challenged that time-honored adage recently, taking to the stage Sept. 13 to convey to their fellow Airmen the message that they can recognize and prevent sexual misconduct and bounce back from adversity.

For families and employers, National Guard training is first measured in the amount of time their service member will be away, and anticipation of their return.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment in Madison, Wisconsin, as well as other Army aviation units in West Bend, dedicated a day to show families and employers what their service member does while in uniform.

MADISON, Wis. - The 115th Fighter Wing Fuels Management Flight Airmen were presented the 2014 American Petroleum Institute award for superior performance during a Sept. 3 visit from Col. Peter Bailey, National Guard Bureau chief of Logistics Readiness Division.

The 115th Fighter Wing Airmen competed against 88 Air National Guard units. The section distinguished itself through superior performance in supporting the 115th Fighter Wing's 24/7 Aerospace Control Alert missions, combat training flying operations, and two deployments to Volk Field, Wisconsin, and Red Flag, Alaska, during fiscal year 2014.

Whether in uniform or not, National Guardsmen are “Always Ready, Always There.”

Never was the National Guard’s motto truer than on the steep slopes of Mount Everest, April 25, when a massive earthquake rocked the world’s highest peaks in the Himalaya Mountains near Katmandu, Nepal.

The magnitude 7.8 quake, which triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest and killed more than 9,000 people in the region, was the deadliest day in the fabled mountain’s history and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless in the surrounding villages and cities.

A Wisconsin Army National Guard warrant officer currently on active duty with the National Guard Bureau has been recognized for selfless service for providing first aid to gunshot victims at a civilian hospital in Alabama in late June.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Miguel Flores, attending a warrant officer leadership course at Fort Rucker, Alabama, had accompanied a classmate — who suffered a head wound while falling during an afternoon run — to the emergency room in nearby Enterprise, Alabama on June 25. While emergency room staff were tending to the classmate, four gunshot victims entered the lobby.

MADISON, Wis. — Logging 140.6 miles in less than nine and a half hours by running, biking and swimming seems a formidable task.

According to Staff Sgt. Ed Schmitt, of the Wisconsin National Guard’s 54th Civil Support Team, the weeks leading up to the Sept. 13 Ironman competition in Madison were even more formidable. Workout regimens ranged from up to 17 hours per week to as many as 26 hours per week, and include endurance bike rides up to five hours at a time as well as running between 100 and 140 minutes at a stretch.

MADISON, Wis. - Three Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers entered a sea of red as they exited the tunnel onto the field in Camp Randall Stadium Sept. 12 for the University of Wisconsin Badgers home opener football game against the University of Miami-Ohio RedHawks.

The Soldiers took to the sidelines not as observers, but as partners with the UW-Madison athletic training staff, assisting the staff members and athletes before, during and after the game on the final day of a cooperative training program that began in early August.

Eight Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers took part in the second annual Sapper Stakes competition, a demanding competition that tested the limits of their teamwork and combat engineer skills, Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at Fort Chaffee, Ark.

Staff Sgt. Josh Steffens, Sgt. Levi Parker, Spc. Aaron Galindo, Spc. Craig Kiesgow, Spc. Josh Mezyk, Spc. Alex Scray, Spc. Cody Hartmann and Pfc. Zach Tesch of the Medford, Wisconsin-based 273rd Sapper Engineer Company were among nearly 100 National Guard and Army Reserve combat engineers to compete in the series of combat-related events in hot, humid weather.

Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers improved their physical fitness and cultivated techniques for refining their quality of life at the two-week Wisconsin Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Camp, offered through the 426th Regional Training Institute at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

According to Sgt. 1st Class Hayden Eckleberg, the camp operations non-commissioned officer, the goal of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Camp is to retain Soldiers struggling to pass their Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) or body mass ratio by providing them the resources necessary for improving their physical fitness and quality of life. This iteration of the course trained 69 Soldiers in early August.

When the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater football team took the field clad in white and purple for their season-opening tilt against Belhaven University Saturday, they did so with a group of players that wear a different uniform when they aren’t on the field.

Whitewater routed Belhaven 62-6 as they opened their defense of the 2014 Division III national championship. The Warhawks are well-established as a perennial national powerhouse in the Division III ranks – having won back-to-back national titles the last two seasons and six since 2007. But three of their players don green uniforms for the Wisconsin Army National Guard as well.

MADISON, Wis. — Elements from the 21st century’s own day of infamy are now on permanent display outside the Wisconsin National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters.

Twisted steel from the wreckage of the World Trade Center twin towers in New York City. A slab of shattered limestone from the Pentagon. A piece of black granite from Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Airlines Flight 93 — the fourth civilian airliner hijacked by terrorists — crashed that fateful day.

SUPERIOR, Wis. — The 950th Engineer Company returned from Afghanistan to a hero’s welcome Sept. 4 as local citizens from Superior turned out in droves to display homemade signs, cheer and wave flags along the yellow ribbon-lined streets that led to Superior Middle School.

Waiting at the school were the Soldiers’ families and state and local leaders who eagerly awaited sign of the unit’s buses coming down the road. There was no doubt when the 950th arrived as a caravan of police vehicles, fire engines and flag-waving motorcyclists escorted them directly to the cheering crowd standing outside the school.

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. — The Wisconsin National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High Yield Explosives (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) participated in a dynamic emergency response training exercise in partnership with the Minnesota National Guard Aug. 23 to 27.

The Vigilant Guard Joint Regional Exercise Program is a National Guard Bureau and U.S. Northern Command initiative intended to strengthen cooperation between federal, state, local, civilian and military partners to improve readiness for emergency coordination, response, and recovery.

Local residents on a drizzly Saturday noticed their streets filled with police cars, ambulances and Wisconsin National Guard Humvees as nearly 1,000 emergency and military first responders converged on Waukesha, Wisconsin, in a training scenario where the city was devastated by an EF5 tornado.

Nearly 700 Wisconsin National Guard troops partnered with the city of Waukesha Police Department, civilian emergency responders and all levels of emergency management to conduct a full-scale disaster exercise held Aug. 28-30 at the Waukesha County Expo Center and at sites throughout the city.

Nearly 700 Wisconsin National Guard troops partnered with the city of Waukesha Police Department and civilian emergency responders to conduct a full-scale disaster exercise in Waukesha beginning Aug. 28.

In the three-day disaster exercise scenario, an E5 tornado devastates downtown Waukesha, requiring a mass casualty response. This coordinated effort will involve trained volunteers, area hospitals, all levels of emergency management and the Wisconsin National Guard.

MADSION, Wis. — Airmen from the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing deployed Thursday (Aug. 27) in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve at Łask Air Base, Poland.

The 115th Fighter Wing is participating in bilateral training with the Polish Air Force during Air Force Aviation Detachment rotation 15-4. During the deployment, a contingent of F-16s and more than 100 Airmen will conduct training and focus on maintaining joint readiness while building interoperability capabilities with NATO allies.

FORT BLISS, Texas -- Nearly 100 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers returned safely to U.S. soil Monday after nine months deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Freedom’s Sentinel.

The 950th Engineer Company returned to a rain-soaked airstrip at Fort Bliss in the early morning hours of Aug. 24 where senior Wisconsin Army National Guard leaders waited to greet them at the base of their plane.

Second in a series

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Approximately 120 teenagers, arranged in four platoons on a sun-drenched parade field, marked their formal acceptance into the Wisconsin National Guard’s Challenge Academy Aug. 13 by reciting the Cadet Oath.

Having been accepted as a cadet at the Challenge Academy, I do solemnly promise that I will strictly adhere to my cadet general rules and the cadet honor code; that I will begin to use the values of honor and integrity, discipline and courage and commitment as the basis of my conduct; and to the best of my ability, I promise to follow the advice, guidance and instructions of the staff; and that I will seek every opportunity to demonstrate the courage necessary to change my life.

How would utilities and state agencies respond to a massive blackout or grid failure to hit Wisconsin? That question was discussed at a national energy infrastructure security summit held July 20-22, 2015 in Washington, D.C.

As part of the Electric Infrastructure Security (EIS) Summit VI held at the U.S. Capitol, some of Wisconsin's top utility, emergency management and homeland security officials were invited to discuss Wisconsin's plans to such events. Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general and Wisconsin's Homeland Security Advisor, chaired the panel on opportunities and challenges facing Wisconsin. Joining him were Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator Brian Satula; Mike Huebsch, commissioner with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission; and David Wojtczak with American Transmission Company (ATC).

The Wisconsin National Guard Reaction Force (NGRF) will partner with the Waukesha Police Department for a full-scale disaster exercise Aug. 28-30.

A new field maintenance facility for Wisconsin Army National Guard vehicles and equipment is officially open for business after an open house Aug. 13 in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Known as FMS (Field Maintenance Shop) 13, the nearly 33,000 square-foot building located at 2631 N. 14th Ave. is Silver LEED certified and replaces the former facility at 833 S. 17th Ave.

MADISON, Wis. — As the motorcyclists mounted their bikes and rode in a slow circle around a parking lot, Jason Herheim barked out commands, instructions and encouragements like a drill sergeant.

“This is what you got a motorcycle for, right? To drive around parking lots?” he joked over the sound of multiple engines.

The riders, all members of the military, were not beginners — this was an advanced riders course, sponsored by the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing and facilitated by Madison Area Technical College.

Leaders from state government and a delegation from Wisconsin’s federal representatives in Washington D.C. got a first-hand look at the training, capabilities and professionalism of the Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard during recent visits to National Guard facilities.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch joined senior National Guard leaders during an Aug. 6 visit to Guard facilities at Volk Field, Wisconsin, and to Hardwood Range in Juneau County, where military aircraft engage simulated adversary threats and practice dropping their ordnance on targets. A separate delegation representing the offices of Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Ron Johnson and Reps. Mark Pocan, Ron Kind, Jim Sensenbrenner, Glenn Grothman and Sean Duffy, visited Hardwood Range and Wisconsin National Guard facilities at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Aug. 10.

Editor’s Note: “The Cruelest Climb,” an article published in the current issue of GX Magazine, an Army National Guard official publication, chronicles one of the most grueling marches in modern military history. During World War II, National Guard Soldiers from Wisconsin and Michigan serving in the famed Red Arrow Division, endured a 130-mile trek through a steaming jungle and over the 10,000-foot-high Owen Stanley Mountains in New Guinea en route to intense combat with the Japanese. Col. Mike Rand, the commander of today’s Red Arrow Soldiers in the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, offers his thoughts on the meaning of the Red Arrow.

The Red Arrow to me is a reminder. A symbol that focuses on remembering the Soldiers who gave everything for their fellow Soldiers, their communities, their state and nation. The 32nd Infantry Division was created during World War I, formed out of the tough and hardy men of the states of Wisconsin and Michigan who went overseas to the battlefields of Europe and fought as tenaciously and as fiercely as their state’s symbols, the badger and the wolverine.

MADISON, Wis. — It didn't take long for a small team from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing to make a big impact on the Wisconsin National Guard's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP).

The six-person Joint Incident Site Communications Capability (JISCC) team, Air Force-trained communication specialists, employs cross-banding technology to provide the CERFP the means to communicate with civilian first responders and other Department of Defense entities if the CERFP is called on to assist with response efforts to natural or man-made disasters.

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Back-to-school activities came early — July 23 — for more than 150 high-school-aged teens from communities across the state.

Seeking to make significant and positive changes in their lives, these teens traded in the last few weeks of summer vacation, free time and privacy for a shot at redeeming wasted opportunities — a seat in the 22-week Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy.

A year after the Wisconsin Army National Guard announced a major reorganization of its units and armories, one of the units most affected by the changes has transformed into a brand new engineer battalion.

The 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, headquartered in Wausau, Wisconsin, replaced the former 32nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, which no longer exists in name. Like the 32nd BSTB before it, the 173rd BEB is an element of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin.

See what’s new in the Wisconsin National Guard. Click on the image to the right to check out the latest edition of @ease, our on-line, interactive magazine.

KINLOSS BARRACKS, Scotland — The smell of pine needles and the North Sea was heavy in the air. Sea birds swooped in circles above while the sun shined down on the grassy field. Metal shovels crunching through wet dirt and the hum of idled machinery echoed throughout the opening. Wiping sweaty brows and sighing with exhaustion, Wisconsin Air National Guard Airmen with the 128th Air Refueling Wing’s Civil Engineering Squadron carried on with their work — part of Exercise Flying Rose June 2015 at Kinloss Barracks in Morayshire, Scotland, United Kingdom.

Exercise Flying Rose is an exchange exercise between the U.S. Air National Guard and British Army, said Lt. Col. Heath Duncan, 128th Air Refueling Wing Civil Engineering Squadron commander for the exercise. During Exercise Flying Rose, forces deploy to one another's countries and work to complete construction-related jobs. 

When the Soldiers and Airmen of the Wisconsin National Guard’s 54th Civil Support Team arrived in Milwaukee last week, they faced an unknown hazardous materials threat in a vacant school building on the city’s northwest side.

Representatives from the FBI, the Milwaukee Police Department’s Hazardous Device Unit, or “bomb squad,” and the Milwaukee Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials Team were already on-hand, as were representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency and local public health officials. The bomb squad and the hazmat team had already entered the building with robots and quickly determined that a potential weapons of mass destruction threat existed inside the building, and the CST was called in to assist.

FullSizeRender-150x150.jpgParents’ Day is a celebrated holiday similar to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, except on Parents’ Day, we pay a joint tribute to both parents. Parents’ Day promotes the message that the role of the parent is important in human development, which requires investment, focus, and commitment. Most children will tell you they celebrate their parents throughout the year, and in today’s society, a parent can be a subjective title. At times, relatives, friends or even a kind-hearted stranger may parent a child.

As the saying goes, everyday should be Parents’ Day. Of course as a child, we don’t realize the full scope of what our parents sacrifice for us on a daily basis. Most parents put their children’s needs and wants before their own and before we know it, they are young adults. We always wonder where the time has gone and hope that we did a good job raising them. However, only our children can truly attest to our efforts.

Our household is very joint, in a couple of ways. I currently serve in the Wisconsin Air National Guard as the Human Resource Advisor to the Madison, Wisconsin-based 115th Fighter Wing and Volk Field Airmen. It is my passion to take care of others in all aspects of my life. My husband, L.J. Maple, is a Wisconsin Army National Guard Drill Sergeant with the Recruit Sustainment Program in Merrill, Wisconsin.

We met 17 years ago in Washington D.C. while L.J. was serving on active duty with the Marine Corps Honor Guard, and I was serving with the Washington D.C. Air National Guard. In 2001 we moved back to Wisconsin, and I transferred units and L.J. transitioned to the Army National Guard.

At that point, we had two small boys, and as all military parents know, life as we knew it would soon change after September, 2001. In our household, we did not both want to be deployed at the same time. It was not best for our family. We made the tough decision that I would deploy and L.J. would separate at the end of his term of service to be at home with the boys.

That didn’t last long. After another break in service L.J. wanted back in, as he too had a passion for helping others. He found it as a drill sergeant. In 2010, we had already been through four deployments. Thankfully we had the support of family. My parents and only brother lived nearby to help L.J. care for our children while I was deployed. Later that year, tragedy struck when my brother was killed in a motorcycle accident. Our household was now growing, as I stepped into my brother’s shoes to become a co-guardian to his two-year-old daughter and four-year-old son.

After another deployment in 2013, and now at 19 years of service, I realized that I missed a collective total of two years of my boys’ lives and more than a year of my niece’s and nephew’s. I also have a greater understanding of being a parent and a true sense of gratitude toward parents, especially my husband. Like many others, he openly accepted two small children into his life with no biological connection and is selflessly parenting them as his own. Not to mention that caring for four children while the other parent is deployed is no easy task. I am forever grateful!

As joint military parents we’re always trying to deconflict our schedules. In addition to serving in the Wisconsin National Guard, we both work full-time and serve the community while spending time with our children. As with so many families, our military values and concepts transfer into civilian life, especially mentoring. As parents, we coach and teach our children in all that we do. From coaching sporting events, volunteering in local community events and simple daily interactions, we find ourselves emulating fundamentals from our own parents.

I know that so many of us recall being in the hangar either pre- or post- deployment and can remember hearing leadership state the importance of our family support system. It is such a true statement that we (Soldiers and Airmen) cannot have a successful mission without the support or our family and friends back home helping to tend to daily family needs. Most of us truly comprehend and appreciate the sacrifices that our spouses make in our absence throughout our military career.

Not only today, but each day, be thankful and keep in mind all that your parents have done for you, all that spouse does to support you and your children, and continue to pay it forward in your parenting each day. Remember to go out and celebrate your family together, make memories and thank your parents and spouse for all of their support throughout the years.

Happy Parents’ Day!


In response to last Thursday’s armed assault on military personnel at two facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee that killed four Marines — including one from northwestern Wisconsin — and a Sailor, Gov. Scott Walker has directed Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general, to arm certain members of the Wisconsin National Guard while on duty.

“Safety must be our top priority, especially in light of the horrific attack in Chattanooga,” Walker said. “Allowing our National Guard troops to carry weapons while on duty gives them the tools they need to serve and protect our citizens, as well as themselves.”

A major tornado outbreak might be a chance occurrence in Wisconsin, but one with very real repercussions.

The response to the potential damage and threat to life cannot be left to chance. That’s why local and state agencies teamed up July 15-16 for the Tri-County Exercise — a training scenario in which several tornadoes touched down within hours of each other, causing numerous fatalities and major damage to roads, bridges and buildings throughout southeast Wisconsin.

MILWAUKEE — The Wisconsin Air National Guard helped a national recruiting promotion reach new heights during the annual Summerfest music festival.

Members of the Milwaukee-based 128th Air Refueling Wing, the Madison, Wisconsin-based 115th Fighter Wing and Joint Force Headquarters, and Volk Field Air National Guard Base joined associates from the Marketing Werks Company marketing team to staff the Air National Guard Mobile Experience display June 25-28 at Henry Maier Festival Park. Their help was doubtless needed, as 1,376 registered visitors attended the display — shattering the previous record of 1,093 registered visitors.

Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 724th Engineer Battalion joined business owners, civic leaders, and community members from the Mosinee, Wisconsin area June 14 to celebrate the start of a construction project more than five years in the making.

As part of the Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training program, the Wisconsin Soldiers will help construct the Mosinee Community Athletic Complex. Scheduled for completion in 2020, the multi-phase construction project will include eight new baseball/softball fields, two football/soccer fields, two tennis courts, a basketball court and concession stands.

MADISON, Wis. — The state’s revised homeland security strategy should be seen as a roadmap that guides state and local response to such potential hazards as cyber attacks, asymmetric or terrorist threats, and catastrophic incidents as well as sustaining response capabilities already developed.

That’s according to Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general and Gov. Scott Walker’s homeland security advisor. In the latter role, Dunbar chairs Wisconsin’s Homeland Security Council, comprised of representatives from 16 state agencies and first responder organizations.

“This strategy is Wisconsin’s homeland security keystone document,” Dunbar said during an official presentation ceremony July 10 in the governor’s conference room at the state capitol. “It’s a core document, the foundation on which the rest of our plans and programs will be built upon.”

ARLINGTON, Va. — Former and current members of the Army National Guard could be affected by a breach of personal information, Guard officials said today.

This incident is unrelated to the breach of federal civilian employee personal information reported last week and on Thursday by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), officials confirmed.

A Wisconsin motorcyclist is alive today thanks to the quick and decisive response of a Wisconsin Army National Guard convoy.

As a convoy of vehicles from the 32nd Infantry Brigade’s 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry rolled down Wisconsin Highway 21 in Waushara County, they spotted trouble. Just outside Coloma, Wisconsin, on their way back to battalion headquarters in Appleton, the commander of the convoy’s lead vehicle stopped at an accident scene after noticing a woman screaming for help. A minivan and a motorcyclist were involved in a collision that left the motorcyclist severely injured. Thankfully, the Guard was there to answer the call.

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Twenty-four Red Arrow Soldiers earned the right to call themselves “Expert Infantrymen” after concluding a grueling multi-day assessment of their infantry skills at Fort McCoy in June.

The 24 Soldiers earned the coveted Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) during the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s annual training.

Training for the competition began June 7 with more than 190 candidates after the 32nd reported for annual training, and testing concluded June 18. The Soldiers received six days of training on the various tasks required to earn the EIB and then moved into five consecutive days of testing. To earn the EIB, Soldiers must successfully complete 41 specific tasks. Failing more than two disqualifies a candidate. One Soldier was “true blue,” meaning, he completed every task without a single “no-go” in any event.

Educators took on the role of students last month, when a group of teachers from Sun Prairie toured Wisconsin National Guard facilities and the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs. From June 17-18, eight educators - counselors, high school and middle school teachers - visited Wisconsin's Joint Force Headquarters for two days of speakers and tours.

The Dane County School Consortium hosts a week-long summer graduate class, where educators get credits to tour businesses and organizations. The goal was to learn about jobs, career paths and what options are out there for their students.

IWO-150x150.jpgAs John Adams famously said of our Independence Day, “It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other...”

Our second president was right. Independence Day is a day for rejoicing in our nation’s freedom and our ability to pursue life, liberty and happiness. It’s a day for celebrating everything that makes this country the greatest free nation in the world and to take stock of the good fortune we all have to call ourselves Americans.

It’s also a day to celebrate the fact that 239 years ago, our forefathers stood up and boldly declared to the world that they were no longer the subjects of a monarch but would instead be responsible for their own governance. This declaration came in an era when kings, queens and noble elites ruled over empires with little to check their power.

That is until a rag-tag band of rural farmers, merchants and businessmen from Boston, Philadelphia, Virginia and the other American colonies stood up to the world’s greatest military power at the time and won their independence from Great Britain.

When the signers of the Declaration of Independence bravely signed their names on that document on July 4, 1776, they knew full-well that they – almost all of them men of means – were risking their fortunes and more importantly their lives by standing up to the British crown. Yet they knew that their work was about something larger than their own lives. They knew that their decision was being watched by the rest of the world and that just as John Adams said, its outcome would be celebrated for centuries.

Indeed, the signers of that declaration blazed the trail for freedom-loving people around the world who were now emboldened to take control of their own governance. In France, revolutionaries overthrew their monarchy, and other nations soon realized that it was representative government – not bloodlines or crowns – that would govern free people in the future.

Of course, the struggle for liberty and independence was not over in 1776. It was only just beginning as the American Revolution would not formally conclude until 1783. The intervening years, and the years leading up to July 4, 1776, were marked by heroic sacrifices by colonial militias and the fledging Continental Army. After all, it was minutemen that rode with Paul Revere to alert Citizen Soldiers at Lexington and Concord that the British were on their way to seize a colonial weapons cache. These same Citizen Soldiers – the forefathers of today’s National Guard – then fired the “Shot heard ‘round the world.”

Militiamen were key to winning the long campaign against the British, and though the last major battle of the war concluded in 1781 with the British surrender at Yorktown and America won its independence, the Citizen Soldier and the U.S. military to this day continue to protect that liberty and independence that was secured at such a cost in the Revolution.

That struggle is not over today. Liberty, as it has been throughout history, is under threat around the world, and the Citizen Soldier continues to stand to protect it from tyrants.

Citizen Soldiers have answered the call in nearly every one of our nation’s conflicts and helped ensure that liberty and independence would be protected for the next generation. That is as true today as it was in 1775 when the first shot rang out at Lexington. And though we can once again celebrate our nation’s independence this July 4, we must never forget that it came at a cost and that it must be continually protected. Today’s National Guard will stand watch as the guardian of that hard-won freedom and remain ready to protect it, just as it has done since the earliest days of America.

FORT MCCOY, Wis. - Once upon a time, more than 1,500 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers manned 54 155-mm self-propelled howitzers in three field artillery battalions - the 120th, 121st and 126th.

By 2006, the 120th had converted to the smaller M119 105-mm howitzer, the 121st had converted to the Multiple Launch Rocket System and would shortly transition to the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), and the 126th turned in its field artillery mission to become the 257th Brigade Support Battalion. Outside of the 426th Regional Training Institute, Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers had not fired the large cannon in nearly a decade.

VOLK FIELD, Wis. - Members of the Polish Air Force visited the 128th Air Control Squadron June 6-17 as a part of the State Partnership Program.

The four service members spent their time observing large force exercises during the Northern Lightning exercise.

"They had a chance to interact and observe how our tactics, techniques and procedures are implemented," said Capt. John McKenna, 128th Air Control Squadron assistant operations director. "By working together, we were able to collaborate our best practices and disciplines on tasks such as radio communication procedures, threat recognition and crew resource management."

The 115th Fighter Wing conducted an Alert Force Operational Assessment (AFOA) at its Madison, Wisconsin base June 8-11.

The AFOA team of specialized personnel from 1st Air Force, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, visited the Aerospace Control Alert (ACA) site to assess its mission-readiness. These assessments usually come before a no-notice, official North American Aerospace Defense Command Inspector General Inspection, and occur every 20-24 months.

FORT MCCOY, Wis. - With broken ribs, a punctured lung and the loss of his spleen, Spc. Charles Kaufman could have opted out of his unit's deployment to Iraq in 2005.

But the Fairchild, Wisconsin resident who joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Company C, 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry with his cousin Kelly was not going to stay home. A month after falling out of a tree stand, he joined his unit in Iraq.

Strong alliances are built on personal relationships, and the alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom perhaps grew a bit stronger after an exchange program partnered officers from both countries together for two weeks in Wisconsin.

Capt. Orrin Viner, with the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Madison-based Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry, hosted Lieutenant Nick Mellis, a British officer with the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry as part of the Military Reserve Exchange Program, June 6-19.

By the time the 950th Engineer Company left for Afghanistan late last year, the unit had spent 15 months of drill and a three-month deployment train-up preparing to clear improvised explosive devices and other hazards from the country’s roads.

As a route clearance company, the Superior, Wisconsin-based unit expected to secure the key travel corridors that coalition forces use every day to move critical supplies, equipment and personnel throughout the region, and while part of the unit has conducted a route clearance mission, more than half of the unit is engaged in other missions.

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — More than 60 Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers from various units across the state donned the historic 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) patch during a June 16 ceremony held outside the division headquarters. More than 10 Soldiers from the Utah National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve also participated.

The Soldiers are now assigned to the 101st as it became the Army’s first division headquarters to convert to a multi-component unit.

The purpose of multi-component unit division headquarters is to fully integrate Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers into the modification table of organization and equipment (MTO&E), which is designed to close operational gaps in mission command capacity, while establishing cohesive, fully capable headquarters that can execute assigned missions.

VOLK FIELD, Wisconsin - Air crews from around the country descended on Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center for a two-week combat training exercise June 8-19.

Air National Guard units from Madison, Wisconsin and Milwaukee joined others from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Duluth, Minnesota, Tucson, Arizona, and Mountain Home Air Force Base, Ohio, as well as an active duty Air Force unit from Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for Northern Lightning - an annual exercise that prepares air crews for combat against a near-peer adversary.

The 2015 edition of Northern Lightning featured a first for an Air National Guard exercise as it incorporated privately contracted aircraft to simulate adversaries in the skies over Wisconsin.

One hundred and three at-risk teens from counties across Wisconsin graduated from a challenging 22-week program June 11 with the tools to make better life decisions and persevere through problems.

The Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy takes teens out of an environment where bad choices were easy to make, and houses them for more than five months at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. The quasi-military setting builds positive values through physical and mental discipline, and transforms at-risk teens into cadets.

Roland Pechie, a senior team leader at Challenge Academy and keynote speaker for the June 11 graduation ceremony at Mauston High School in Mauston, Wisconsin, used a rock quarry metaphor to explain the tough environment the teens came from and the condition in which they arrived — a mass of imperfect rock.

For many years, the Army was content to leave electronic warfare in the hands of other branches of the military, but as the Army's technology has grown increasingly sophisticated, so has its own organic electronic warfare needs.

That growing demand for trained electronic warfare personnel is now playing out in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, where a small, but growing number of Soldiers are joining formations around the state.

One hundred and four cadets from 40 counties will graduate from the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy June 11 during a noon ceremony at Mauston High School in Mauston, Wisconsin.

Challenge Academy intervenes in the lives of 16-18-year-old Wisconsin youth at risk of not graduating high school. The 22-week quasi-military residential program at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin offers motivated and committed teens an opportunity to earn a high school equivalency degree (HSED), develop life skills, clarify values and strengthen relationships with family and community. Upon graduating the residential phase, Challenge Academy cadets are paired with hometown mentors for guidance and encouragement as they pursue a new direction in life.

Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, is scheduled to host aircraft and personnel from multiple Air National Guard and active duty units as part of the annual Northern Lightning combat training exercise June 8-19.

The two-week long event will provide participating Airmen with valuable training in large-force aircraft employment against a near-peer adversary, incorporating the first use of contract aggressor aircraft in a National Guard Bureau exercise.

According to Lt. Col. Christopher Hansen, CRTC director of operations, Volk Field is uniquely suited to support training exercises such as Northern Lightning.


WEST BEND, Wis. — Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general, and Wisconsin National Guard senior leaders joined families and friends in sending off approximately 30 Wisconsin Army National Guard members of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment during a May 30 ceremony.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers will complete mobilization training at Fort Hood, Texas, before deploying to Kuwait where they will conduct a medevac and maintenance support mission for approximately 12 months as part of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Spartan Shield. They will train and deploy alongside Guard members from other states — the battalion's aviation units are located in Colorado and Nebraska as well as Wisconsin, as part of the National Guard's plan to have vital aviation assets available across the nation.

Two events aimed at honoring employers that support Guardsmen and Reservists helped kick off Armed Forces Week in Milwaukee in mid-May.

Employers and service members gathered at an awards breakfast at the Milwaukee War Memorial Center May 11, while just hours later, the CEO of Rockwell Automation, a Milwaukee-based Fortune 500 industrial automation and information solutions corporation, signed a statement of support with the Wisconsin Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program.

The day's events highlighted the important role employers play in defending the nation.

Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, Wisconsin's deputy adjutant general for Army and the senior officer of the Wisconsin Army National Guard, began an additional assignment earlier this month as the special assistant for diversity to Gen. Frank Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

In this three-year assignment — known as a dual-hat assignment — Anderson will advise Grass and other senior National Guard Bureau leaders on policies or programs that will impact diversity in the National Guard. He will also recommend new policies or programs — or changes to existing programs — that increase diversity and fosters an inclusive environment. This responsibility, Anderson explained, aims to develop a stronger organization which reflects the communities the National Guard serves.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard's Soldier of the Year finished a whisper short of winning the 2015 Region IV Best Warrior Competition, held May 11-14 at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.

Spc. Derrek Ziegler — a member of Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry — finished second in a contest of the best lower enlisted Soldiers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio.



For many, Memorial Day is heralded as the unofficial start to summer – a long weekend filled with barbecues, boat rides and vacations. But the day should not be one of celebration, unless it is to celebrate and honor the lives of the hundreds of thousands of brave Americans who gave their lives securing our freedom. Memorial Day is about honoring the service and sacrifice of these brave men and women and every Soldier, Sailor, Airmen, Marine and Coast Guardsman who has given their lives in defense of our nation.

In the years following the Civil War, Wisconsin, and every other state in the Union, had to come to terms with the loss of more than 600,000 Americans in just over four years of fighting between North and South. Wisconsin, only 17 years into statehood by war’s end, paid dearly during the conflict, as more than 12,000 of its native sons made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the Union. Many of those 12,000 hailed from what would become the Wisconsin National Guard, but more importantly these were our forefathers, who willingly gave their lives – that future generations of Americans might live in freedom and peace today.

It is therefore vital that we, as a nation, pause on Memorial Day, and every day for that matter, to solemnly remember and pay tribute to our brave fallen who secured the prosperity and liberty we enjoy today.

During the Civil War, the Iron Brigade, made up largely of Wisconsin units, shed their blood at places like Gettysburg, Antietam and Bull Run, and ultimately suffered the highest percentage of casualties of any brigade in the war. On this Memorial Day, we remember their sacrifice and those of the more than 24,000 Wisconsinites who have died in the service of our country.

They died in some of the most hellish places on earth – Buna, Bataan, Okinawa or Iwo Jima in the Pacific theater of the Second World War. Normandy, Sicily, North Africa. On the killing fields of “No Man’s Land” on the western front in World War One. In the frozen Chosin Reservoir or at Incheon during the Korean War, over the skies of Vietnam or the sweltering jungles of the Mekong Delta below. Or more recently in the deserts of Iraq, on the streets of Baghdad and in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Each one of those 24,000 is representative of a life cut short...of a father no longer there to raise his children. A daughter mourned by her parents. A brother, a son, a friend or a comrade. Each one leaves an unfillable hole in the family and community they once called home, and those communities suffer knowing what might have been – the good those men and women might have gone on to do for the world or the lives they may have impacted had they lived.

Yet, with their loss, we take solace in knowing that these brave men and women accomplished something far greater in this world – that they did, in fact, go on to do good in this world and impact the lives of every American and every freedom-loving person in the world. They gave their lives to preserve freedom and secure prosperity for us here today and for generations of Americans to come. They gave up their lives, their hopes and their dreams for their families for something much larger than themselves – our greater good as a free human race.

The hallmark of their legacy surrounds us every day. We sleep peacefully at night without fear of waking up to a military coup or a new dictator with a different set of values. The tyranny and oppression that characterizes much of the world today is non-existent in our day-to-day lives. We worship freely, are free to criticize our government and its leaders without fear of retaliation, and we can rest assured that our children will grow up under this same blanket of freedom.

Yet we’re reminded of the price of all this freedom. We don’t enjoy it by happenstance. Thomas Jefferson famously said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” and his words could not ring more true.

We enjoy our freedom today because of people like Spc. Charles Kaufman, a Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldier killed in Baghdad 10 years ago this June, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle, or Staff Sgt. Todd Olson, another Wisconsin Army Guardsman, who died in December 2004 near Samarra, Iraq...or the other 8 Wisconsin Guardsmen – Spc. Michelle Witmer, Spc. Michael Wendling, Sgt. Andrew Wallace, Cpl. Stephen Castner, Sgt. Ryan Jopek, Staff Sgt. Robert Basham, Master Sgt. Brian Naseman, and Sgt. Ryan Adams – or the nearly 130 Wisconsin Service Members who called Wisconsin home that have made the ultimate sacrifice during the last 14 years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our freedom is thanks to these men and women, and the 1,200 Wisconsinites in Vietnam before them, more than 700 in Korea, more than 8,000 in World War Two and nearly 4,000 in World War One who laid their lives down so that the generations of Americans that followed in their footsteps could live peacefully under that blanket of freedom they fought so valiantly to defend.

We must never forget their legacy, and we owe it to our war dead to live lives every day that are worthy of their sacrifices. Cherish the gift you’ve been given, and take advantage of the freedom they have won for you to live the life they could only dream about.

Please take a moment to reflect and pay tribute to those that made us free.

Please also take a moment to watch this 60 second video from the U.S. Army about the true meaning of Memorial Day.



Fourteen Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers concluded nearly a month of decontamination operations at the site of an Avian Flu outbreak in Jefferson County May 15.

The Soldiers were called to state active duty to support the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's (DATCP) effort to combat the spread of the H5N2 virus which has affected hundreds of thousands of chickens and turkeys at several sites across the state.

OSHKOSH, Wis. — Communications are critical during a disaster. Getting information and data to the right people at the right time can save lives. That's why the Wisconsin National Guard — along with Wisconsin Emergency Management, Winnebago County Emergency Management and Winnebago County Sheriff's Office — hosted a multi-agency communications exercise.

State Interoperable Mobile Communications Exercise — or "SIMCOM-Vital Connection 2015" — was held May 5-7 at the Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The exercise tested mobile emergency communications from more than 30 federal, state, tribal, local governments and volunteer agencies. The goal is to develop relationships and understand the capabilities of other agencies and their equipment before they are needed in a real emergency. Specific operations being tested this year included data sharing, radio frequency bridging and patching, and network failures.

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker promoted Brig. Gen. Murray Hansen, the Wisconsin Air National Guard chief of staff, to his present rank during a formal ceremony May 20 in the Senate Chamber of the state capitol.

During the ceremony, Walker acknowledged that he carries uniform patches from the Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard as a reminder of the service Guard members provide at the state and federal level.

"It's not just a job — it's an incredibly important responsibility," Walker said, "in many cases a responsibility that others in active duty weren't able to fulfill the way our men and women in the Wisconsin National Guard can. We understand the importance — we know that's why it's so important to have great leadership."

For the second consecutive year, the Wisconsin Army National Guard's field cuisine reigns supreme.

The 132nd Brigade Support Battalion's food service section, based in Portage, Wisconsin, was named the Army National Guard's best food service section in the 2014 Phillip A. Connelly Awards Program. Sgt. 1st Class Jassen Hinchley, senior food operations sergeant, and Staff Sgt. Aleksandr Simonov, food operations manager and first-line cook, accepted the first-place award May 15 at the National Restaurant Association's Armed Forces Food Service Banquet in Chicago.

The Wisconsin National Guard recently hosted officials from Europe, Asia, South America and the Vatican as part of the State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program, administered through its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The program aims to provide a deeper and more detailed understanding of the U.S. foreign policy-making process, examine how U.S. foreign policy intersects with its national security interests, study domestic issues which influence U.S. foreign policy decisions, and examine the range of perspectives public and private sector policy stakeholders bring to the foreign policy debate.

Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers and Airmen joined forces for a two-day Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) exercise at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, May 1-2.

The exercise allowed service members to prepare for the first-ever CERFP one-day inspection, scheduled to be held next month.

"This is going to be the first team to be evaluated using a one-day evaluation process, so they are kind of in the spotlight," said Travis Dauer, National Guard Bureau Joint Collective Training Branch weapons of mass destruction-chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear analyst.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard is piloting a program along with 19 other states to bolster the resiliency of Army National Guard teens and build positive methods of coping with stress.

Part of the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Family Fitness Program that trains Soldiers and their spouses on skills to cope with stresses, the pilot program has a curriculum tailored to the teen population and teaches teens life skills — skills that adults have because of their many life experiences — such as being self aware, critical thinking, and building stronger relationships.

More than 270 senior leaders from the Air National Guard converged at the Wisconsin Air National Guard's Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, for the annual Executive Safety Summit May 5-6.

Adjutants general, wing commanders and senior enlisted leaders from around the country came together to discuss key safety topics and share best practices during the two-day summit.

Attendees heard from Jeff Skiles, a Wisconsin native and co-pilot on U.S. Airways Flight 1549, which Skiles and pilot Chesley Sullenberger navigated to a safe crash landing on the Hudson River in January 2009 after bird strikes caused engine failure.



Inevitably when Mother’s Day comes around each year, I reflect on motherhood and my decision to join the Army National Guard. The day I became a mother was the day my life was no longer my own. My children are at the forefront of every decision I make. What I do, I do for them, to give them every opportunity that I can possibly give them. Joining the military was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It has provided me the opportunity to enhance my children’s lives in more ways than we all realize.

Being a Soldier and a mother has its challenges, but it also has its rewards. A thought that reoccurs in my mind is that I’m not giving 100 percent to my kids or 100 percent to my job. I would struggle with that reality and contemplate how I could get there. I realized that at any given moment I am robbing one area of my life to give to another. I had to change my mindset and understand it’s all about balance and moderation – giving my best at all times to everything in my life. I often run a gamut of emotions, from guilt for leaving my children and missing important life events, and guilt for not staying at work longer or doing more. I use that guilt to drive me to become better, to make events more memorable for my kids and to do a little extra at work when time allows.

I am a firm believer in communication and keeping an open dialogue with my two kids, Olivia and Gabe. I cannot expect them to understand if I don’t share this part of my life with them. When I do this, they comprehend what my military life is like, and it gives them a snapshot of all that I have going on as a mother and also as a Soldier. They are included in every decision I have to make concerning the military. I want them to know that their opinion is important to me, and I value what they think. They often have some surprising feedback and are more understanding than what I give them credit for. They never cease to amaze me!

Thankfully my kids understand the sacrifices that have been made on my part, but more importantly on theirs. They have given up a lot due to my career choice, but they also know the rewards that have we have benefitted from, both tangible and non tangible. In reality, the military is our second family – a diverse community of like-minded individuals that have similar goals and desires in life. The support we receive from our military family is unlike any other. This network of selfless individuals has truly been there for my children and I. I can honestly say they have helped us out tremendously during sticky situations. I’m not surprised; we are all going through the same thing and can relate to the military lifestyle.

No other role I could have would ever compare to the one as being a mother. There is no argument that it is the best thing in the entire universe! I have learned so much about life and myself by parenting my children. I often use the same principles when it comes to leading Soldiers. They just happen to be a little older. The military is such a diverse community it allows me to bring home teaching points to my kids. I am often amazed how the two roles complement each other. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t happen on a daily basis, but it happens enough that I take notice of the parallels.

The military has done so many things for me personally and professionally that I could not articulate them all to you. I am a Soldier and a mother. Both worlds collide at moments, but it always dissipates. Something I have found that helps keep me centered is perspective. Perspective is a must to walk the lines of both roles and maintain harmony. A positive outlook can change many things in our lives. We need to take time to reflect on the “why”, and remind ourselves why we joined the military and why we had children. In doing so, we remember there are things that are bigger than us, and to have played a role and serve a purpose is such an honor. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers that sacrifice daily!


Approximately 30 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment will deploy to Kuwait this spring as part of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Spartan Shield.

The unit, based in West Bend, Wisconsin, will deploy Soldiers from Companies C, D and E of the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation for the mission where they will provide helicopter medevac assets and maintenance support to American personnel operating in the region. The battalion is made up of National Guard aviation units spread across Colorado, Nebraska and Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Soldiers will deploy as part of a larger aviation task force being sent to the region.

Wisconsin is once again counted among the top Army National Guard organizations with its Gold Division First Place finish in the 2015 Army Communities of Excellence (ACOE) program.

Wisconsin finished runner-up to the Ohio Army National Guard, which was named the overall winner in the 2015 judging. This year, 41 Army National Guard states and five U.S. Army Reserve commands participated in the ACOE program.

"This recognition is a reflection of the tremendous effort on the part of many Soldiers in the Wisconsin Army National Guard who continue building readiness and improving our processes across all the functions necessary to make us one of the best Army National Guard's in the nation," said Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, deputy adjutant general for Army and the Wisconsin Army National Guard's top officer. "Our participation has been a conscious effort on our part to continue to promote efficiencies, improve our readiness and take better care of our Soldiers and accomplish our mission."

MADISON, Wis. — Airmen of the 115th Fighter Wing, family members and friends gathered to honor a fellow Airman's service and sacrifices, and to recognize her achievements and dedication during a memorial ceremony on base, May 3.

Airman 1st Class Kelly C. Tomfohrde, 115th Fighter Wing tactical aircraft maintenance specialist, lost her life after falling from a fifth-story window April 5 at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan. She, along with approximately 250 Airmen and 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons, deployed to Kadena Air Base in January to support the Pacific Command (PACOM) Theater Security Package to provide the PACOM region with forces capable of a variety of operations.

FORT MCCOY, Wis. – Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers from Detachment 1, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry honed advanced marksmanship tactics with Special Forces Soldiers here April 10 –11.

The detachment worked with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) of the Illinois Army National Guard, to jointly conduct advanced marksmanship tactics training. The training included advanced maneuvering with M4 rifles, urban assault movements and advanced room-clearing procedures.

DEFOREST, WIS. — For the first time in its 15-year history, the Wisconsin Army National Guard Hall of Honor inducted three Medal of Honor recipients alongside retired Soldiers during a formal ceremony May 3 at DeForest High School.

Medal of Honor recipients Sgt. Kenneth Gruennert, Staff Sgt. Gerald Endl and 1st Sgt. Elmer Burr —along with retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Michael Kreisler and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Lynn Ryan — joined the ranks of 52 Hall of Honor inductees.

It wasn't quite the movie Wizard of Oz, but there was still a small dog, talk of tornadoes and a puff of smoke last Friday at Miller Park, as 11,000 students and teachers from southeastern Wisconsin attended Weather Day.

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.

With Sexual Assault Awareness Month drawing to a close, the Wisconsin National Guard unveiled a report on its efforts over the past two years to stamp out sexual assault from its formations.

Among the highlights were a series of visits in summer 2013 by the Wisconsin National Guard's senior leaders to every unit in the state to stress the organization's intolerance for sexual assault and to explain how the Guard responds to reported cases of assault.

In late 2013, Wisconsin became the first state to create a team of legal advisors, known as special victims counsel, who represent victims of sexual assault through the investigation and prosecution phases of the cases. The Guard also worked with the Wisconsin State Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker signed into law an update to the Wisconsin Code of Military Justice's definition of sexual assault. Wisconsin became the first state to amend its state code specifically to provide an enhanced Sexual Assault Punitive Article, Article 120.

The Wisconsin National Guard revealed how it is trained and equipped to respond to domestic emergencies with four key leaders from the Nicaraguan military April 21-24.

The Nicaraguan offiers - Lt. Col. Moises Alexander Hodgson Harris, Lt. Col. Marlon Moreno, Lt. Col. Andres Abelino Rizo Gutierrez and Maj. Sergio Arturo Corrales - are members of the Nicaraguan Army branch of civil defense, and visited Wisconsin as part of the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program.

Representatives from local, state, and government agencies gathered to observe the 54th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (CST) change of command during a formal ceremony held April 23 in Madison, Wis.

The 54th CST is made up of full-time Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard troops responsible for rapidly responding to emergencies and terrorist events involving weapons of mass destruction or toxic industrial chemicals.

Three tornadoes have cut through Ozaukee County, each taking a different path. The damage is extensive. Major roadways, water supplies and communications towers have been damaged or heavily affected. At least that's the training scenario that Ozaukee County emergency management officials and members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade faced in a multi-day exercise April 17-19.

Communities and emergency response agencies have been trained how to respond in the event of a tornado, but helping communities return as closely as possible to their normal day-to-day lives was the task at hand.

MADISON, Wis. — More than 250 Airmen from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing returned home April 19 from their deployment to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan.

"Welcome home and thank you for your service," Col. Jeffrey Wiegand, 115th Fighter Wing commander, told the returning Airmen in Hangar 406 on base. "It is great to have you back. As I said when you left, it's an honor to be on this stage looking at this group of impressive Airmen, families and friends supporting our Airmen, and the community serving and supporting our Airmen."

Several key leaders on stage, including Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, addressed the Airmen during their welcome home ceremony.

A team of peer reviewers visited the Badger State April 12-16 as part of a national accreditation process for the Wisconsin National Guard's family programs.

Volunteers from the Council on Accreditation visited National Guard sites around the state to assess various programs housed under the National Guard's Service Member Support Division. The peer reviewers' findings will go into a final accreditation report issued by the Council on Accreditation, which will determine if the organization meets national accreditation standards. That report will likely be available in early May.

"As the crow flies" is a common rural axiom for estimating distance. But agriculture students from Poynette High School roughly a half-hour north of Madison, Wisconsin, learned that information gained when a Raven flies could expand their career opportunities or shorten the time needed to complete a work project.

The students and three instructors were invited to an informal briefing on the RQ-11 Raven Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) at the Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry Regiment, a unit in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. The Raven - a remotely piloted aircraft small enough to be launched by hand - is used to collect visual information to help cavalry scouts in reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition and force protection. But the same type of technology and techniques could also help farmers evaluate soil erosion or crop damage.

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Each year, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum leads the nation in commemorating Days of Remembrance.

Established by the U.S. Congress, the Days of Remembrance are to memorialize the 6 million Jews murdered in the holocaust, as well as the numerous millions of non-Jewish victims of Nazi persecution.

Millions of ordinary people witnessed the crimes of the holocaust in their city squares, stores, schools, workplaces and in their homes, but they chose to do nothing. The victims had no control over, or choice in, their fates.

The rescuers, on the other hand, made choices. They chose to risk their own lives and those of their families in an attempt to intervene and help rescue those being persecuted.

Among those who intervened:

Emilie Schindler — She was essential to her husband Oskar’s efforts to protect Jews during the holocaust. While her husband was away, she encountered Nazis taking 250 starving Jews to a death camp. She convinced them that more Jews were needed at the Schindler factory, which already employed more than 1,000. As a result of her tireless efforts, as of 1994 there were more than 6,000 descendants of the original 1,200 that the Schindlers saved.
Anton Schmid — An Austrian drafted into the German army, Schmid used his position while stationed in Lithuania to help Jews at every opportunity. He provided them with jobs, permits, provisions, shelter and transport to safer areas. He even hid some in his apartment and office. Despite warnings that the Nazis had heard of his activities, he continued until his arrest. He was executed for treason.
Father Czeslaw Baran, Franciscan monk — During the holocaust, priests, nuns and monks rescued Jews by hiding them in more than 900 church institutions across Poland, the only country where providing assistance to the Jews was routinely punished by death. Father Baran and his fellow monks worked with the Sisters of Mary to hide Jewish children in a convent school near Warsaw. After the liberation, all the children were returned to the surviving Jewish community.
Paul Grueninger — As commander of the Swiss Border Police, he chose to disregard orders to close the border to Jewish refugees. He falsified documents to allow 3,600 Jews to enter and stay in Switzerland. Fired for defying orders, he was convicted of breach of duty and left destitute. He said, “My personal well-being, measured against the cruel fate of these thousands, was so insignificant and unimportant that I never took it into consideration.”
Henry Christian Thomsen — An innkeeper in Denmark who joined the Danish resistance, Thomsen helped hundreds of Jews escape Nazi-occupied Denmark. His inn served as a secret meeting location for fishermen who smuggled Jews to Sweden. When the growing number of Jews seeking help swamped his fellow smugglers, Thomsen bought a boat to help the effort. He was caught and died in a concentration camp.

In the days after Allied forces captured the first concentration camps, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, Gen. George Patton and Gen. Omar Bradley themselves inspected a camp and saw the evidence of atrocities that, in Eisenhower’s words, were “beyond the American mind to comprehend.”

Democratic institutions and values are not simply sustained, but need to be appreciated, nurtured and protected. Silence and indifference to the suffering of others, or to the infringement of civil rights in any society, can — however unintentionally — perpetuate these problems. As concentration camp survivor Elie Wiesel said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

As you become aware of the challenges in your own community — though they may pale in comparison to the holocaust — ask yourself if you have learned anything from the holocaust. If you see or know something is wrong, will you do nothing — or will you choose to act?


FORT MCCOY, Wis. - At 5 a.m. today (April 10), 14 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, Soldier skills and military bearing. The grueling schedule will also test each competitor's composure.

These Soldiers - representing the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 64th Troop Command and 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade - 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 May 11-15 at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.

For the first time, the Wisconsin Army National Guard Hall of Honor will induct three Medal of Honor recipients alongside two retired warrant officers recognized for their significant contributions to the organization.

Three Wisconsin employers of National Guard and Reserve members are among the 150 employers nationwide selected as semifinalists for the 2015 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

Semifinalists include Mercury Marine, a Division of Brunswick Corporation, in Fond Du Lac; Stainless Tank and Equipment Company, LLC in Beloit; and the State of Wisconsin.
The Freedom Award is the Department of Defense's highest honor for employers that provide extraordinary support to their Guard and Reserve employees.

MADISON, Wis. - An Airman assigned to the Wisconsin Air National Guard's Madison-based 115th Fighter Wing died April 5 following a fall from a fifth-story window in Kadena, Japan.

Airman 1st Class Kelly Tomfohrde, 22, a student at the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse and native of Auburndale, Wisconsin, was taken to the U.S. Navy Hospital Okinawa at Camp Foster where she was pronounced dead at 9:51 p.m. local time. Her family was notified April 5.

MADISON, Wis. - An Airman assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, died April 5 following a fall from a fifth-story window in Kadena, Japan.

The Airman was pronounced dead at 9:51 p.m. local time after being transported to the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa at Camp Foster.

The incident is under investigation.

One of the seven National Guard recipients of the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award — which recognizes company-grade officers who embody the ideals of duty, honor and country — spent most of his military career in the enlisted ranks.

Capt. Ron Adams of Milwaukee, who commands the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, said his two decades as an enlisted Soldier has proven invaluable.

"I have a unique perspective as an officer," Adams explained. "I have served in just about every rank and leadership position as anyone in my unit, and understand their needs and challenges."

Staff Sgt. Sonia Buchanan's military career could be considered ground breaking, or perhaps glass-ceiling breaking.

She has already served among Army Rangers and Special Forces teams in western Afghanistan as part of a Cultural Support Team — and was one of four Wisconsin Army National Guard female Soldiers to graduate from the inaugural Cultural Support Training Course at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 2011. She has completed drill sergeant school.

Railroad ties, collapsed culverts, fire hydrants and steel pipes were among the many unique features and potential hazards identified and marked by approximately 200 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers at the site of the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant near Baraboo, Wisconsin, March 28.

The Soldiers were part of the Madison, Wisconsin-based 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry Regiment. Troop A, from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and Troop B, from Watertown, Wisconsin, were on-hand to assist the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with the site survey. The DNR, the Ho-Chunk Nation and the Dairy Forage Research Center all own portions of the sprawling 7,534-acre site, and the site survey took place on the DNR's parcel.

As Women's History Month draws to a close, members of the Wisconsin National Guard heard from one of their own who made history in Army aviation.

Lt. Col. Tammy Gross, who plans to close out a 28-year military career in April, spoke about the opportunities available to her that were not available to pioneering women pilots such as those who served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program during World War II. Despite being able to fly every aircraft in the Army Air Force, they were not considered part of the military.

"It never dawned on me that women could be discriminated from going into the service," Gross said. "I wasn't aware of any boundaries, because the women before me had obviously paved the way."

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — The secret behind the success of the food service section for the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Headquarters Company, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion, is simple — it's made from scratch.

A year ago, the food service section combined some new members with some old hands, folded in some lessons on brigade support battalion field operations learned at Camp Dodge, Iowa, and worked the mixture thoroughly throughout the year. The recipe yielded an opportunity to compete for the title of best reserve component food service section in the Army March 21 at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. The section won the regional competition last year.

The Wisconsin Employment Resource Connection (WERC) and the Job Connection Education Program (JCEP) will hold the last of three community employment summits March 26 from 11 a.m. to noon, at the Armed Forces Reserve Center (AFRC) in Madison, Wisconsin.

"The summit is important because it is the last of three events across Wisconsin," said Capt. Joseph Ledger, formerly the manager for the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs' WERC program and now the project officer for National Governors Association Veteran Employment initiative in Wisconsin. The first event was in Green Bay, and the second in Milwaukee. "It's also a celebration event for all of the hard work the programs involved have put forth."

Practice, preparation and partnerships are key components to protecting Wisconsin from a wide spectrum of hazards and risks, according to the state's homeland security advisor.

"There are a lot of things Wisconsin faces," said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general and Gov. Scott Walker's advisor for homeland security issues. "I can tell you with confidence we're going to have a flood again someday. I can tell you with confidence we'll have a tornado someday. They can be tragic and devastating, but they don't scare me because we've had them before and we have good procedures in place — we have a good emergency management team at the local county level and the state level, and we have good partners in FEMA."

MILWAUKEE - Students with the aviation technician program at Milwaukee Area Technical College trained with Airmen and assets assigned to the propulsion shop at the 128th Air Refueling Wing in order to complete course work needed for their airframe and power plant license Feb. 9-27 here.

MATC works with the 128th Air Refueling Wing to send their students to the base to receive hands-on training with the CFM-56 turbofan aircraft engine where they will encounter engine changes, working with line replaceable units, fan blade inspections and practicing engine starts in the aircraft simulator.

MADISON, Wis. — Sixty-nine Wisconsin employers of National Guard and Reserve members have been nominated by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) for the 2015 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award — commonly referred to as the "Freedom Award."

The Freedom Award is the highest recognition the Department of Defense can give to employers for their support of National Guard and Reserve members. The National Guard and Reserve make up nearly half of the U.S. military, and most reservists hold civilian jobs. Freedom Award nominations must come from a Guard or Reserve member employed by the organization they are nominating, or by a Guard or Reserve family member.

MADISON, Wis. - Maj. Gen. John McCoy enlarged the Wisconsin National Guard officer constellation a bit when he formally pinned his second star during a March 13 ceremony in the Senate Chamber of the state capitol.

While the Wisconsin National Guard is authorized six general officer positions at one time, typically only the Wisconsin adjutant general is eligible to hold the rank of major general. McCoy will remain in the Wisconsin Air National Guard, but owes his new rank to a duty position outside of Wisconsin - in May he will begin his job as the Air National Guard assistant to the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) commander at Joint Base San Antonio-Rudolph. In that position, he 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.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Airmen from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing applied their expertise to solve a real-world problem during a March 7 training exercise in Finley, Wisconsin.

The Airmen supported the Juneau County Forestry Department by clearing a beaver dam, allowing water to drain properly and preventing further forest destruction and flooding throughout the local area.

Soldiers from the 273rd Engineer Company and Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing teamed up for a weekend of training at the Regional Emergency All-Climate Training Center (REACT), at Volk Field, Wisconsin, on March 7.

The REACT Center is a training complex that encompasses a wide variety of training options for units that specialize in technical rescue operations.

Both units make up the Wisconsin National Guard's CERFP — or CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high explosive) Enhanced Response Force Package. CERFPs are able to locate and extract victims from a contaminated environment and are ready to deploy within six hours of notification.

Public affairs Soldiers from the Madison, Wisconsin-based 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment left a lasting impression on a major NATO operation in Europe after three weeks serving in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard's 112th MPAD dispatched teams to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia for three weeks, spanning from mid-February to mid-March, to provide public affairs support to U.S. Army Europe by embedding teams with the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment. The 2nd Cavalry Regiment deployed to locations across Eastern Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve in January.

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan —Wisconsin National Guard senior leaders visited deployed members of the 115th Fighter Wing March 4 to learn how they are helping complete the mission here.

During their visit, Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Cullen, Wisconsin Air National Guard command chief, and Brig. Gen. Gary Ebben, Wisconsin National Guard deputy adjutant general for Air, spoke with several squadrons about how the Wisconsin Air National Guard fits into Kadena's mission of providing unmatched combat power, a forward power projection platform and for the common defense of Japan.

Thirty-nine Airmen from the 115th Force Support Squadron, the 115th Logistics Readiness Squadron and Volk Field temporarily deployed for training (DFT) to Mildenhall Air Force Base, England, in support of the Air Force active-duty component Feb. 12-27.

The deployment allowed Airmen to integrate themselves and train alongside active-duty forces overseas, gaining vital experience they can implement at their home stations and on future deployments.

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The state of veteran unemployment in Wisconsin is improving — but more can be done.

"Because of the good work of our Department of Veterans Affairs and the successes we've seen across the entire state over the last four years, we've been able to cut our veterans unemployment rate literally in half," Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch said in Green Bay at the first of three Governor's Summits on Wisconsin Veteran Employment. "The more we are able to do that, the better off we will be."

Capt. Joseph Ledger, formerly the manager for the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs' Wisconsin Employment Resource Connection (WERC) program and now the project officer for National Governors Association Veteran Employment initiative in Wisconsin, noted that in 2012 unemployment among Wisconsin veterans was around 10 percent. Two years later, the rate had improved to 5 percent, with preliminary indications that unemployment among veterans was continuing to drop in 2015.

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan — A Wisconsin Air National Guard pilot currently deployed to Kadena has just completed a milestone in his career, joining an elite group of just 250.

Lt. Col. Matthew C. McCunn — of the Madison, Wisconsin-based 115th Fighter Wing — completed a flight here taking him over a career total of 3,000 flight hours.

Upon landing, McCunn was surrounded by friends and family — including his sons Senior Airman Alex McCunn and Airman 1st Class Nathan McCunn, who are also deployed to Kadena with the 115th Fighter Wing — as he became soaked in water from the traditional hosing down for his accomplishment.

"In the fighter community, we accumulate flying hours at a fairly slow rate, and a little slower in the Guard than on active duty," McCunn explained, noting that he averages around 100 sorties per year and averages 1.3 hours per sortie. While flying careers can be cut short as a result of changing military assignments, McCunn has spent his entire career as an F-16 pilot.

MILWAUKEE — On their weekend off, Airmen with the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 128th Air Refueling Wing, the 115th Fighter Wing and Volk Field brought their spouses to downtown Milwaukee at an off-site retreat to conduct important training. Their mission: spend quality time with each other, enjoy the city, and laugh their way to a better marriage.

"Our greatest resource that the Air Force has is our members," said Lt. Col. Matthew Friese, the head chaplain with the 128th Air Refueling Wing. "You can have the best equipment in the world, but if you don't have the best trained and prepared Airmen, the best equipment doesn't matter."

Airmen with the 128th Air Refueling Wing Religious Support Team facilitated a Strong Bonds event to build individual and family resiliency through relationship education at the DoubleTree Hotel in Milwaukee Jan. 23-25.

MADISON, Wis. — Active duty Airmen officially became a part of Truax Field following a Feb. 7 assumption of command ceremony at the 115th Fighter Wing's Hangar 406.

Lt. Col. J. Scott Gibson, commander of the 495th Fighter Group's Detachment 176, stationed at Dane County Regional Airport-Truax Field, was sworn in by Col. James D. McCune, 495th Fighter Group commander.

Another chapter came to a close Saturday (Feb. 21) in the Wisconsin National Guard's saga in the global war on terror.

Saturday morning, five of the six remaining Soldiers from the 32nd Base Defense Operations Center (BDOC) returned to Madison, Wisconsin following nearly a year in Kuwait - one is still at Fort Bliss completing administrative requirements. Later that afternoon, more than 30 members from Battery A, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, arrived in Milwaukee, marking the end of their combat deployment in Afghanistan.

The remaining six Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers from the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team have returned to the United States following nearly a year in Kuwait.

The Soldiers are part of the 32nd Base Defense Operations Center (BDOC), who augmented the Area Support Group's mission of providing life support operations for more than 16,000 personnel spanning several bases while also upholding the defense cooperation agreement with Kuwait. They arrived at Fort Hood, Texas Feb. 18, and will return to Wisconsin after completing post-mobilization requirements.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE OQAB, Afghanistan — More than 50 Soldiers of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 950th Engineer Company have taken on a new assignment — providing security for Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air, a U.S. Air Force effort to train the Afghan Air Force.

The 950th Engineer Company Soldiers conduct base security, personnel protective details and provide quick reaction response forces at two Afghan Air bases within the country — a task they perform under pressure, every day where lives are at risk.

All of Sussex, Wisconsin-based Battery A, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery is now back safely in the United States after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.

Approximately half of the unit returned to Wisconsin in December, but the rest remained in Afghanistan to continue its fire support mission. The high-mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) unit was among the first Army National Guard units to complete a fire support mission in Afghanistan. Its sister battery, Battery B, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery became the first in 2012.

More than 30 Soldiers from the unit landed at Fort Hood, Texas, Feb. 10, where senior leaders from the Wisconsin Army National Guard were waiting planeside to greet them. The Soldiers subsequently travelled to Fort Bliss, Texas, where they will complete the demobilization process before returning to Wisconsin.

Gov. Scott Walker and senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders were on hand for a Freedom Salute ceremony Feb. 7 in Middleton, Wisconsin. The ceremony honored the service and sacrifices made by Soldiers of three Wisconsin Army National Guard units that returned home in December.

Soldiers from Battery A, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, a high-mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) unit based in Sussex, Wisconsin, returned home in December with 41 Soldiers. Approximately half of the unit remains deployed in Afghanistan. They are expected to return home by the end of February.

Nearly 160 Soldiers from the Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin-based 829th Engineer Company were mobilized and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to conduct retrograde operations as part of the larger drawdown of U.S. forces in the region.

One of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's largest troop formations has a new command team at the helm after a formal ceremony in Milwaukee Feb. 8.

The nearly 1,700-Soldier 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, known as the "Iron Brigade," bid farewell to outgoing commander Col. John Schroeder and Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph Rosemore after nearly two years leading the brigade. Col. David O'Donahue and Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Sullivan replaced them.

For their efforts in shaping the Iron Brigade, Schroeder and Rosemore were each awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. Schroeder will become the Wisconsin Army National Guard's next chief of staff, while Rosemore will take over as the operations sergeant major in the 64th Troop Command.

Wisconsin Army National Guard Spc. Alexander Zerbst received the Purple Heart Medal during a ceremony Sunday, Feb. 8 at the Richards Street Armory in Milwaukee.

The medal was awarded to Zerbst for wounds received when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device while he was deployed to Iraq in 2007. At the time of the attack, Zerbst was serving with the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Troop E, 105th Cavalry.

"Everything kicked in," said Zerbst of the incident. "Instinct and training kicked in. We just kind of kept going and didn't think too much of it. The vehicle was still running and drivable, so we just kept going to where we needed to get to."

The Wisconsin National Guard's 132nd Army Band owns the reserve component of the 2014 Army Music Noncommissioned Officers and Soldiers of the Year competition.

Staff Sgt. Tyler Terrell took first place in the senior NCO category, Sgt. Brian Lydeen took first in the NCO category, and Spc. Micah Lancaster took first in the Soldier category.

"When the announcement was made, I couldn't believe it," said 1st Sgt. Deb Dahlman, the top enlisted member of the 132nd Army Band who selected Terrell, Lydeen and Lancaster for the competition. "I was so happy, I cried."

Five Airmen, representing the Wisconsin Air National Guard's three bases, have been recognized as Wisconsin's Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2015.

The five Airmen, who will compete against their peers across the country for the chance to be named the 2015 Air National Guard Outstanding Airman of the Year, include: Senior Airman Michael Derhammer of the 128th Air Control Squadron, Airman of the Year; Staff Sgt. Christopher Johnson of the 115th Fighter Wing, Noncommissioned Officer of the Year; Senior Master Sgt. Craig Mortvedt of the 115th Fighter Wing, Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year; Master Sgt. Michael Krausz of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, First Sergeant of the Year; and Senior Master Sgt. Gerald Depotsie of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Honor Guard Member.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.