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  • Goodnews UMM: Military, personal site
  • Stories

    A friend (Anthony F.) of mine shared his story (November of 2007) how "things just fell in place" (God's perfect timing) with him getting accpeted as chaplain assistant for a Minnesota unit (based in Brainard) in the National Guard. The story mainly goes way back when he was living in Arizona. His former pastor (now deceased) kind of gave him a hint that he would be doing this years before. The word became confirmed when he moved back to Minnesota to live close to his parents here in the Morris area (Starbuck to be exact) this summer (2007). He was going to attend school in Minnesota State University-Moorhead for Mechanical Engineering because he knew he was "called" into church ministry and his heart was to learn how to run the sound-board if he was ever going to be in pastoral leadership of a church. In the mean-time, he had to make money and he ended up applying to the the Minnesota National Guard. The person interviewing him learned about his interest (ministry) and wanting to earn some money in the side, so he suggested to Anthony about being a chaplain! There happened to be only open position available, which with God's grace and provision-he got it! Currently, he is "preparation training" before the actual duty beginning next Fall. Anthony just was encouraged to see this all fall threw, which God was just preparing him for this-"for such a time as this".

    "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?""-Esther 4:13-15

    *see Bible

    Stevens County



  • Greatest Generation stories saved for the future Posted at: 07/16/2007 06:39:21 PM (KSAX)

  • "The stories of Minnesota soldiers dating back to World War II are being shown in a film competition put on by the Minnesota Historical Society this summer. Dr. Raymond Scalan, a soldier who helped save lives in World War II, is now a doctor at Abbot Northwestern. He is part of the "Greatest Generation," but he is not only a war hero, he also survived the Depression. Filmmakers have access to professional help and history center resources. There are cash prizes, totaling more than $10,000. But the point of the competition is to bring different generations together. "It actually connects people from my generation, with that generation and allowing them to sort of open up," Amanda Becker said, a participant in the competition. The Historical Society will archive all film entries, preserving the stories for generations to come. "


  • Minnesota National Guard

  • Blackhawk Batallion Salutes Minnesota State Capitol

    Fallen Soldiers

  • Arrest reported in Minnesota soldiers' deaths- Associated Press reports that a man confessed to Basra police that he carried out attack that killed three Minnesotans, including an Olivia National Guardsman , Published July 18 2009 By Don Davis St. Paul Capitol Bureau

  • "...The Associated Press reported that the Basra police chief said a man confessed early Saturday to the attack that killed Spec. Daniel P. Drevnick, 22, of Woodbury, Spc. James Wertish, 20, of Olivia and Spec. Carlos E. Wilcox IV, 27, of Cottage Grove. The attack appeared to be from a missile or mortar shell....
    The Los Angeles Times reported that the deaths were the first since the American military withdrew combat forces from Iraqi cities on June 30. Southern Iraq, in the Basra area, had been considered one of the country's calmest regions....
    Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of these fallen heroes and with the entire Minnesota National Guard community, at home and overseas....
    Wilcox was "wise beyond his years" even as a child, a quiet man who picked his words carefully said John Magee, senior pastor at Light the Way Church in Cottage Grove, where Wilcox and his family attended.
    And while Wilcox had many plans for the future, he was already living out some of them.
    "He always wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and be in the military," said Magee, who was with Wilcox's family Saturday at Dover Air Force Base as they waited to meet the plane carrying Wilcox's body.
    Wilcox's father died when he was a child, he said. Both his father and his grandfather served in the U.S. Air Force, he said.
    "He was very proud to serve his country," Magee said. "He felt very moved to be part of something like that."
    Wilcox had been in the Guard since 2006, and previously was in the Army Reserve.
    After Wilcox's father died, his mother Charlene Wilcox, was left with four children to raise. During that time she got a college education, and became a teacher at Cottage Grove Junior High School.
    "They are a very close family who had to lean on each other," Magee said. "This family is a success story."
    From Christmas and Easter plays as a child to youth group as a teen, Wilcox was always active in church, and Magee said he was a devout Christian.
    Magee said Wilcox was adamant that his military experience could vault him into political office someday, and he hoped to go from being an army medic to becoming a doctor.
    "I had complete confidence that I would be going to him for physicals one day," Magee said.
    Wilcox had a degree in biology from Metro State University and he served in a Cottage Grove-based medical company before transferring to the military police unit last year.
    As for what he'll tell his congregation about Wilcox's death, Magee said tragic situations are evidence that though God is perfect, he operates in a fallen world.
    "We believe that this is just part of eternal life and we believe Carlos spent it doing what he was designed to do," Magee said..."


  • Minnesota's Military Appreciate Fund

  • Minn. man gives millions in fund to soldiers, Posted at: 02/25/2008 08:47:17 PM By: Nicole Muehlhausen, Web Producer (
    "As the war in Iraq continues, so does the need to support the troops when they return home. One Minnesota man is taking it upon himself to provide some assistance.
    Gene Sit created the Minnesotan�s Military Appreciate Fund to help soldiers and their families.
    Shane and Michelle Clifton, of South St. Paul, both served in the Iraq war with the Navy, which means both qualify to receive a grant from the fund.
    "I think it's amazing, I think it's wonderful. It's something you can never say thank you enough," said Michelle Clifton.
    The Cliftons aren�t alone. The fund has awarded grants to 6,000 Minnesota military members, totaling more than $4 million.
    The organization was started by Sit, who never served in the military and was actually born in China.
    Sit said he came to America as a penniless child to escape the community revolution. He studied hard, worked hard, and eventually began his own successful investment firm.
    He said for all U.S. gave to him, he wanted a way to give back.
    "I'm very appreciative in terms of the freedom. The opportunities that we have," said Sit.
    A few years ago, Sit started the Minnesota�s Military Appreciate Fund with more than a million dollars of his own money.
    "We have this great country today because of the sacrifices of these men and women," Sit told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
    All Minnesota military personnel who served in a combat zone can receive $500. Those wounded in combat are eligible for $2,000 to $10,000.
    "Some are using the money to go back to school. Some are using to pay everyday bills," Sit explained.
    The families of those killed in combat qualify for a $5,000 grant.
    "He's just as much as a hero as the folks over there, because it's so appreciated," said Shane Clifton."




  • Minn. veteran reflects on Battle of the Bulge By John Croman Updated: 12/24/2010 7:20:15 AM

  • "MINNEAPOLIS -- The holidays bring memories to all of us, some sweet and others bittersweet. Some fade while others remain vivid.
    Those who lived through World War II will never forget late December of 1944. American soldiers that Christmas were fighting brutal winter weather and a determined enemy in Europe, in what became known as The Battle of the Bulge.
    Retired teacher Frank Ario remembers it well. He was there, sitting in the belly of a Sherman tank, loading heavy shells into a 75mm gun aimed at the advancing German army. The Mankato native was 20-years-old at the time.
    "At that age we were not that well informed. We just did what we were told," Ario recalls, "And with Oski around and a hardened veteran you did what Oski told you to do."
    Alexander P. Oski was his tank commander, a 35-year-old staff sergeant who had arrived in the war zone the previous June.
    "He'd gone in on D-Day along with my tank driver. Those guys took us out of some very tough spots because of their experience and knowledge."
    Ario's outfit was part of the 743rd Tank Battalion, part of the 30th Infantry Division. They were scrambled straight to the front in Malmedy, Belgium after Germans launched the massive offensive into the weakest part of the Allies' line on December 16th.
    "Nobody knew the Germans had that kind of power at that time, but they just moved in and slaughtered a lot of American boys. We lost 19,000 kids, killed in that battle alone. That was almost average of 400 to 500 a day."
    The tally also included 23,000 Americans taken prisoner, and 43,000 wounded including Ario himself. He suffered a serious injury three days into the fighting when tanks recoiling gun pinned him against the wall of the tank.
    "In a tank you are told to take the shell, push it into the breach block, and then get out of the way and holler 'On the way'!" Ario explained, "Which is to tell the gunner he can now fire the shell, because you've clear the gun for the recoil."
    But nobody realized the gunner's foot was still on the trigger, which was a solenoid on the floor that acted as the firing mechanism. As a result gun fired immediately when Ario loaded the shell, and recoiled before he could get clear of it.
    "It just went over the top of my head but it caught my shoulder, and I didn't know if it was broke or just what," Ario recalled.
    "I told my tank commander, 'I'm hit. I can't function anymore. My arm's just gone dead. He just told me to get out of a tank."
    He made it to a train depot that had been converted into field hospital, and then was shipped by rail to a hospital in Paris where he spent Christmas. His ears started draining once there, which slowed his return to the battle.
    Ario can't recall whether they played Christmas music at the hospital. His mind was on the buddies he left behind in the fray.
    "You keep thinking when am I going to get out of here? When am I going to get back up there? What's going on when I get back up there? How many guys are going to be dead, or wounded?"
    He later learned his commander, Sgt. Oski, had been killed.
    "He was 35 and he was a Minnesotan. It was tough to lose Oski."
    Eventually the Allies turned back the Germans, as reinforcements arrived and clearing skies allowed the Americans and British to put their superior air power to use again.
    Twin Brother Fred
    As Frank Ario's outfit made its way into Germany his mind was also on his twin brother Fred, who was serving in the European theater as an infantry soldier. In June of 1945, after the German's had been defeated, Frank learned that Fred had died from a bullet wound to the abdomen.
    "I had not heard anything from my brother in months and I thought, no news is good news, so everything's fine," he recalled. Then one day while on guard duty he opened a letter from his mom in Minnesota.
    "I read my mother's letter and she wrote, 'Frank, you've got to be brave now. I've got bad news.' I remember that. And I couldn't believe it."
    He wanted to visit his brother's grave, but that was easier said than done. Postwar Europe was plagued by huge logistical, legal and diplomatic barriers.
    Eventually Ario agreed to remain on active duty an additional three months in order to cut through all the red tape it took to get clearance to visit Fred's grave marker in The Netherlands.
    Ario still is haunted by memories at times, but says he's in much better shape emotionally than some of the veterans he has met volunteering at the Veterans Hospital in Minneapolis the past 12 years.
    "Psychologically I think I came out of the war quite well," he said, "I was young enough and I guess I was committed enough. I felt that what we were doing was right."
    Life after the war
    At the time he was drafted Ario had spent a year at Mankato State Teachers College, now known as Minnesota State - Mankato. He took additional courses at Akron College in Ohio while in military training.
    After exiting the Army Ario enrolled at Augsburg College, which he described as a "welcoming cacoon" at the time for shell-shocked returning veterans. He finished his education at the University of Minnesota before going into teaching full-time.
    He became a fixture at Washburn High School in Minneapolis, where he taught economics and philosophy from 1957 to 1987. Students often asked him about his war days, especially during the turbulent Vietnam War era.
    "The students all wanted to know about your war experiences, and your love life and everything else!" he laughed.
    Ario met his wife Georgette at Augsberg. They've now been married 60 years, and have four sons and have six grandchildren. During his retirement years he's made it a point to take his grandkids back and forth to school everyday.
    Fighting for his neighborhood
    In the 1980's Frank and Georgette launched the legal battle against airport noise in south Minneapolis. He led the group known as SMAC, or South Metropolitan Action Council, which went to bat against the Metropolitan Airports Commission.
    "When we bought the house in 1962 there were only a few planes per day and it wasn't so bad," he explained, "But by the 1980's the jets were just destroying our community. The noise was atrocious and it was affecting property values."
    The legal wrangling continued for more than a decade, eventually resulting in the noise mitigation program for thousands of homes funded by ticket surcharges.
    As Christmas 2010 approaches, 64 years after the Battle of the Bulge, Frank Ario is losing his personal war with prostate cancer.
    "I've been fighting cancer for 12 years and it's finally reached the point where the doctor says we can not treat you any longer," he told KARE.
    "I'm 86 years old. My wife and I have had a tremendous 60 years of life together. I have no complaints," he said, "I'd like to be around for my grandchildren as long as possible, but I've had a good life." (Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.) "


  • Minnesota WWII Memorial, from Minnesota Dept of Veterans Association

  • *dedicated today (Saturday, June 9th of 2007)

    New memorial honors WWII vets Updated: 06/09/2007 10:25:19 PM
    ST. PAUL (AP) - Vivid stories of bombing runs over Germany and beach landings in Iwo Jima flowed freely Saturday among thousands of World War II veterans who gathered at Minnesota's Capitol to dedicate a memorial to their cause.
    Many showed up dressed in their military best, displaying chests full of medals and saluting fellow soldiers as they passed. Some flashed tattered enlistment cards and time-worn photos before snapping new shots next to war buddies, spouses, children and grandchildren.
    "Everything we enjoy today - security, prosperity and the ability to enjoy freedom - was bought with the price of their service," Gov. Tim Pawlenty told a crowd estimated by Capitol security officials to be 22,000. "They set aside their dreams, so we could live ours. Today, we dedicate this memorial in honor of the greatness and goodness that Minnesota's World War II veterans gave the world."
    The glass-and-granite tribute - built more than six decades after the war ended - comes as natural causes are increasingly claiming the lives the era's soldiers. Only about 47,000 World War II veterans out of roughly 320,000 who served back then remain in Minnesota.
    As he looked up at one of 10 glass panels describing the state's involvement, 82-year-old Ray Peterson couldn't help but dwell on the frequent funerals he's been attending lately for fellow veterans.
    "It's too bad it had to be so late," he said of the memorial. "But it's nice to get it before we're all gone."
    Peterson toured the memorial in a flight suit similar to one he wore aboard a B-17 during 26 missions over Germany toward the end of the war.
    Like Peterson, Burt Folk signed up for the war at age 17. But Folk, now 82, saw action half-the-world away on a Navy ship that took part in the Feb. 19, 1945 storming of Iwo Jima, a Japanese stronghold in the Pacific Ocean.
    He too wonders what took so long. On Minnesota's sprawling Capitol lawn, the new memorial rests midway between existing monuments to the Vietnam and Korean wars.
    "This is 62 years after the fact," Folk said. "They recognized all these other ones way before they recognized our efforts. Now we've got ours."
    Crowds began swelling by midmorning and people sat in the beaming sun to save their spot. They gathered for a group photo and watched vintage World War II aircraft fly overhead.
    Eighty-seven-year-old Hazel Anderson, a member of the Women's Army Corps, said Saturday was a can't-miss event for her generation.
    The memorial, she said, "is like a bond. It means a lot to me."
    A national memorial to the war was dedicated in Washington in 2004. Minnesota joins Illinois, Indiana, New York, South Dakota and some other states that have erected their own official World War II memorials.
    It was authorized by state lawmakers in 2000 and cost $1.38 million to build.
    Ten 8-foot-tall glass panels set on Mesabi Black granite slabs make up the perimeter. They detail Minnesota's war efforts - both in combat and on the homefront. They recognize the Iron Range's role in supplying raw materials for weapons, the Mayo Clinic's tests of high-altitude flying, local inventions such as the K-ration and the work of women in ordnance plants.
    The memorial's interior is a declining granite plane meant to symbolize the depths of war paired with a gradually rising flower bed designed to represent the climb to victory.
    "We don't want it to glorify World War II or any war," said retired Gen. John Vessey, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Reagan. "We want the memorial to be a perpetual reminder of the blood and sweat that Minnesotans of our generation contributed to the earth-shaking years of World War II."
    While the memorial is meant for him too, ex-Naval flight engineer Bob Hansen's mind immediately turns to his brother, one of the 6,462 Minnesota war casualties.
    "The freedom we enjoy is not something that comes easily," he said. "Everyone who has been in the service can look at it from different angles and different personal values."
    Before the official dedication, the names of each fallen Minnesota soldier was read aloud. The roll call took more than 3� hours to get from Bernie Aaberg to John Zylstra, both Army privates from western Minnesota who died six weeks apart in 1944.

    (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    -Bataan Memorial in Brainerd National Guard Armory-Crow Wing County


  • Minnesota's Greatest Generation, from
  • -Camp Ripley (Little Falls-Morrison County)

  • Military Museum, in Camp Ripley
  • Minnesota Air Guard Museum

  • "MILITARY EXPO Saturday, June 13 and Sunday, June 14 TIME: 11:00 A.M.-4:00 P.M.
  • The Minnesota Military Museum ,

  • "...seeks to strengthen public understanding of how armed conflicts and military institutions have shaped our state and national experience. We do this by documenting, preserving, and explaining military history as it was lived by the people of Minnesota. We also function as a major repository in Minnesota for historical artifacts and records of a military nature. ..

    *click the picture above for more pics
    {Photos by}

  • The Minnesota Military Museum,

  • , located at Camp Ripley, is open to the general public as well as military personnel. Hours are: May - September: 10a.m. to 5p.m. (Daily except National Holidays)
    Camp Ripley's Military Museum

    "Published on May 21, 2012 Our guided tour of the most expansive military museum in Minnesota. "
    11032901Northwoods Adventure Minnesota Military Museum at Camp Ripley


  • Fort Snelling
  • Prisoners

    Paul Rueben
    Please say a prayer for Paul Reuben's safe return

    "Through the power of prayer, we ask for Paul's safe return."

  • Reuben's twin daughters have hope, Posted at: 03/13/2008 10:13:12 PM By: Nicole Muehlhausen, Web Producer (KSAX-TV)

  • "Paul Reuben�s twin daughters share their heartbreak and hope, after news their father�s finger was severed and sent to military authorities in Iraq.
    As grisly as it may sound, Bree Reuben said it was good news to hear about her father�s finger. She said to her, it indicates he�s still alive.
    "What's going on in his mind? Was he screaming, did they hold him down?" said Bree.
    Those are the questions Casey and Bree Reuben try not to think about when it comes to their father � a former St. Louis Park Police officer.
    Reuben spoke to his daughters four days before he was kidnapped.
    "Last time we talked to him, he was like shaking. Scared. He was so scared. You can like hear it in his voice, him trembling," said Casey.
    Both daughters said they were very close to their father.
    "I've been feeling like something bad was going to happen for the last two weeks," Casey said.
    They learned three weeks ago from the FBI that the government had obtained his DNA, but only this week did they learn it was from his finger.
    While they�re safe at home, Bree and Casey feel tortured with so many questions.
    "I wanted to know if it was from a live body or dead body, wanted to ask did it happen fast, because they can tell," Bree said.
    The person they talked to, only had a short statement to read to them, and so their torture continues.
    "It's like never over, it never stops. It just keeps on going and going," said Casey.
    Reuben�s daughters want people to remember their father and needs to be rescued."

    Friend Of Hostage Paul Reuben Speaks Out, By Vinnie at December 26, 2006 12:23 AM (Mypetjawa)
    "It's nice to be able to post something from the mail bag that isn't vicious, nasty, and disgusting.
    Paul Reuben, and 4 others taken with him, are still missing in Iraq. A good friend of his, Mark Kocielski, has set up a website in support of Paul.
    We pray for their safe return.


  • Minnesota National Guard prepares its largest (2700) ever deployment by Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio August 8, 2005
  • Minnesota National Guard
  • Veterans of Foreign War

  • *I try to attend the local Morris VFW Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser each year to show my support, which they make some good pancakes!

    -Connect With Troops

  • Operation Northern Lights, connecting Minnesota w/troops during the holidays through K102 (Twin Cities radio)
  • Organizations

  • Minnesota Veterans
  • Reunions

  • WWII veterans of the USS Minneapolis meet for final reunion Posted at: 10/11/2007 03:21:18 PM (

  • "MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The aged sailors milled about the banquet room, some with cocktails, a few with relics from their World War II days aboard the USS Minneapolis (CA-36).
    Together, the men survived close scrapes at sea, from the time they were nine miles offshore during the attack on Pearl Harbor to the Battle of Tassafaronga near Guadalcanal in November 1942, when a torpedo peeled off the bow of their ship.
    But time is waging its own war, and the crew of the Minneapolis is losing. This week, the remaining Navy men from the heavy cruiser are meeting for the last time.
    "The members are all either sick or died off," said 84-year-old former sailor Matt Rybinski, of Syracuse, N.Y. "It's getting awful thin."
    About three dozen members of the USS Minneapolis Association are meeting at the Best Western Normandy Inn through Saturday for their 23rd reunion.
    These "last reunions" are becoming more common, with most World War II veterans in their 80s and 90s. Of the 16.1 million men and women who served in the war, fewer than 3 million remain alive. WWII vets die off at the rate of about 1,000 a day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
    "I think for some people it's going to be very sad," said former division officer Marshall Hatfield, of North Oaks. They'll lose "the continuity of having these reunions. The continuity of their memories is there."
    And with Ken Burns' World War II documentary series "The War" playing on PBS, there seems to be more fanfare over the typical cocktail hours, memorial services and banquets than usual. This get-together will be recorded by local filmmakers as part of the Minnesota Historical Society's "Minnesota's Greatest Generation" project, which is documenting the lives of wartime residents.
    "This is the last time their stories are going to be shared as a group," said Randal Dietrich, head of the film project. "This collective memory of this ship resides in this room and nowhere else."
    Founded in 1984, the USS Minneapolis Association has gotten together every year since 1985. The first reunion was in Minneapolis and drew more than 200 veterans, with other gatherings landing around the country, including San Antonio, San Diego, Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Seattle.
    Members all served at various times on their namesake ship, a heavy cruiser commissioned by the Navy in 1934. The ship was one of the most decorated of the war, earning 17 battle stars during operations in the Pacific Ocean. It was decommissioned in 1947 and sold for scrap in 1959.
    At its peak, the USS Minneapolis carried a crew of more than 700 officers and enlisted men. Forty-five died during the war. The veterans association has about 150 members left, with about eight dying each year.
    When last year's gathering in North Carolina drew just more than 20 men, organizers decided the next reunion would be the last.
    Don Bovill, a former captain's talker (he repeated every order given by the captain aboard ship), was on the Minneapolis from 1940 through the end of the war.
    He had missed only a couple of reunions before deciding this summer that he and his wife were in no shape to fly to Minnesota.
    "We're just too old," Kay Bovill said from their home in Arlington, Texas. (Don Bovill had his wife talk for him during a recent interview. At 87, he's on oxygen and gets too winded to speak at times.)
    Kay Bovill, who has accompanied her husband to every reunion, said the former sailors relish gathering and talking about the funny things that happened during the war, not necessarily the memories of fighting.
    "You'd be surprised at the things they did," she said. "We had dinner with the old cook at one reunion, and he said, 'Don, how'd you like those cookies with raisins in them?' Don couldn't help but laugh. They weren't raisins - they were weevils. But once they're cooked, they're good."
    Rybinski said he had to make this reunion.
    "I wanted to meet the old buddies," he said. "We broke up, and it's always great to see them after a while. You got to know these people better than their brothers."
    Still, he recognizes that this organization had to end. He just lost a close Navy friend a couple of months ago, he said.
    "Sometimes you go and the people you hope are there aren't," he said. "A lot of my friends are passed away, they're gone. It's probably time to quit."
    What will Rybinski do next year?
    "Nothing I know of," he said. "We just go on with our lives like we have been."
    (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)"



  • Combat vet's standoff with officers ends peacefully in Appleton By Tom Cherveny West Central Tribune - Morris Sun Tribune Published Tuesday, December 25, 2007

  • "APPLETON � A nearly 10-hour standoff between law officers and a U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran of the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars with sniper and special operations experience ended peacefully withthe apprehension of the suspect shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday.
    The suspect, Casey Meyer, 25, of Milbank, S.D., but more recently of Appleton, surrendered to SWAT team officers and offered no resistance, according to Swift County Sheriff Scott Mattison. The sheriff reported that a high-powered rifle equipped with a telescopic sight and ammunition were recovered.
    Meyer was transported to the Appleton hospital where he was treated for ingesting vodka and sleeping pills. He was subsequently transported to Woodland Centers in Willmar for detoxification and psychological services, according to the sheriff. ..."

  • Did war's demons follow Iraq veteran in I-94 chase? Law enforcement officials are among the many people trying to piece together what led police to shoot Brian Skold on Sunday. By Warren Wolfe and Chuck Haga, Star Tribune Last update: May 29, 2007 - 11:30 PM

  • "ALEXANDRIA, MINN. - When Brian William Skold died shortly after dawn Sunday on a rural stretch of interstate highway in central Minnesota, he may have been drunk. Members of his family told authorities that he may have been suicidal.
    Was he still at war? Members of his family said no.
    Officers tried for 90 minutes to negotiate with the Iraq war veteran as they chased him along and off Interstate Hwy. 94 before he fired two or three blasts from his shotgun. Officers responded, shooting Skold dead, and the body of a Minnesota National Guard specialist who survived a 13-month deployment to Baghdad lay dead.
    "We want you guys to know that this incident was not a direct result of his service in Iraq. He loved his country and he served it proudly," his ex-wife, Amanda Skold, told reporters Tuesday.
    Others aren't so sure.
    "I don't know enough about his situation, but it doesn't surprise me that we're seeing more incidents like this," said James Schulze of rural Stewart, Minn., whose son Jonathan, a 25-year-old Marine veteran, committed suicide in January.
    The Schulze family alleged that Jonathan twice told staff members at the St. Cloud Veterans Medical Center that he felt like killing himself and that they turned him away. A report by the VA's Office of the Inspector General said those allegations could not be substantiated, but a federal investigation has led to procedural changes at the hospitals.
    "My heart goes out to these parents," James Schulze said Tuesday. "Obviously, [Brian Skold] had issues. ... The magnitude of the problem -- it's a time bomb waiting to go off."
    Don Pappenfus, a Vietnam-era veteran and a Sauk Rapids City Council member, also wants to know whether the mental scars of combat could have been a factor in Skold's death.
    "They're going through hell over there, and then some of them are coming home and not getting the help they need," he said. "I'm mad about it."
    What officials know
    It's unclear what sparked the chase and standoff with Skold, Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen said. But family members told authorities that Skold, who served in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, had been suicidal since getting home, though they seemed to back off from that in their statement Tuesday.
    Members of Skold's family's called for help shortly before 4 a.m. Sunday. Skold's truck was spotted by authorities about a half-hour later as he traveled west on I-94. He was followed into a rest area 2 miles east of Alexandria, where a sheriff's deputy joined in on a cell phone conversation with him.
    Skold left the rest area and drove into the city of Alexandria, where members of a city-county SWAT team took up the chase, authorities said. He then went back onto I-94 and drove east until officers used "stop sticks" to disable Skold's 1994 Chevrolet pickup just beyond the exit at Osakis, Minn., about 120 miles northwest of the Twin Cities.
    As a deputy continued to negotiate with him, Skold left his truck several times, brandishing his shotgun. The second or third time he fired the weapon, officers returned fire. A doctor at the scene pronounced him dead.
    Two veteran Alexandria police officers have been placed on administrative leave because of the shooting: Sgt. Chad Schroeder and officer Tony Kuhnau. Alexandria Police Chief Richard Wyffels said the officers may be reinstated by the end of the week. Up to 15 officers took part in the chase and standoff.
    Authorities said they had no information about Skold's mental or physical condition beyond the family's warning. They emphasized that the investigation continues, and they offered no clear link between Skold's behavior and his time in Iraq, but his death comes at a time of increasing concern about mental-health issues among returning military personnel.
    An autopsy in Skold's death is being conducted by the Ramsey County medical examiner's office.
    The shooting occurred about 6:55 a.m., and a portion of the freeway was closed until about 3 p.m. Sunday.
    Wolbersen would not say which relatives had contacted Skold by cell phone during the incident, citing a continuing investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The BCA is expected to turn its results over to the county attorney in a week, the sheriff said.
    In good standing
    Skold enlisted in the Minnesota Army National Guard on Dec. 30, 1998, said Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, Guard spokesman. Skold served with the 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery based in Montevideo and was deployed in Baghdad from late 2004 through 2005. He was in good standing at the time of his death. The 151st lost three men in combat in Iraq.
    Olson declined to discuss possible causes of the incident. "Once police make their final report, we'll be able to evaluate that," he said.
    Skold was not a patient at the Minneapolis Veterans Medical Center, according to Ralph Heussner, public affairs officer there. It was not known whether he had contact with the St. Cloud Veterans Medical Center for problems arising from his service in Iraq.
    Kari Pearson, who lives on a farm neighboring the one where Skold grew up, said that he was divorced recently but "was a wonderful father" to his four children.
    "I don't think we ever will understand" what happened, said Pearson, who added: "He was very sociable and enjoyed life. He was so proud to go to Iraq."
    Pappenfus said he and other vets discussed Skold's death during Memorial Day observances in Sauk Rapids.
    "We all stood there in the cemetery, and I shook my head," Pappenfus said. "I said, 'Here we go -- another one.' "
    He said he will seek more aggressive screening for problems among returning combat veterans in a planned visit with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officials next month in Washington, D.C.
    "I don't think the president and the government are doing their job with these young men and women who are coming back from the war zones and trying to turn their lives back to a regular world again,"he said. "Something's bothering them, and the screening isn't there."
    Pappenfus said he talked with Skold two or three times after he returned from Iraq. "He was a great guy, and it shocked me when I heard what happened," he said.
    'Model student, respected'
    Skold was a graduate of Lac qui Parle Valley High School in Madison, where Principal Jon Fulton said that teachers recalled him as "a model student and a respected young man."
    Mike Bredeck, 58, a counselor at the high school when Skold attended, said he "came from a good, hard-working family" that lives on a farm outside the town of 1,700. "Brian reflected that in every way," he said.
    He was the middle of three children, and younger brother Jeremy served alongside him in Iraq. His father, William, is a carpenter. His mother, Margaret, worked at a Madison bank.
    The family attends St. Michael's Church in Madison, which is Bredeck's church. Brian Skold's picture was displayed there during his deployment.
    "When his unit came back, we were all happy to see them," Bredeck said. "You expect they'll come back and go on with the next phase of their lives." � 612-673-4514 � 612-673-7253 "


  • Goodnews USA: Military,personal site
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  • AP IMPACT: Long haul begins in Iraq for Minn. GIs By SHARON COHEN, AP National Writer Sat Aug 2, 3:12 PM ET (

  • "ST. PAUL, Minn. - In the end, Chad Malmberg put his framed Silver Star on the wall and stowed away his helmet, some old uniforms and the dusty combat boots he had worn in the Iraqi desert.
    He was a hero, now, and proud of it. Malmberg had quickly entered his last semester of college, blending easily into the anonymity of campus life. Within months, he had his degree.
    It took months, too, to break some habits. Such as hugging the center line when he drove and swerving whenever he saw anything on the road, fearing hidden bombs. And ticking off a check list � gun, ammo, food � every time he went outside.
    He was home, he was safe, he was whole.
    So many others could not say as much: John Kriesel, Josh Hanson, J.R. Salzman, Corey Rystad, Bryan McDonough ... some came back with broken bodies, some came back to eulogies and grieving loved ones and final resting places.
    But none of them � none of the 5,000 men and women of the 1st Brigade Combat Team/34th Infantry Division of the Minnesota National Guard � came back unchanged by their 22-month deployment, and their sojourn into the cauldron of Iraq.
    Their time at war won a commendation in Congress as "the longest continuous deployment of any United States ground combat military unit during Operation Iraqi Freedom."
    And for every man and woman who served, there was someone at home, hoping and waiting for their return.
    There was the young wife who scoured the Internet each morning, searching for news stories about the area where her husband was based � trying to gauge the dangers. The little boys who eagerly checked e-mail every night for messages from their soldier-father.
    There was the father who wondered how to break it to his soldier-wife that their baby girl had uttered her first words � and she had missed it. The mother who walked to work praying for her soldier-son's safety � telling herself if she arrived without a phone call he was OK.
    This was a war where families were sometimes just a mouse-click away from their soldiers, where a mother who had just given birth dispatched cell phone photos of the baby to her soldier-husband, where home front celebrations � graduations, birthdays, even weddings � were shared across the continents, via Web cams and video hookups.
    But there also were moments in Iraq, some terrifying, some heartbreaking, that could not be shared with others far away.
    The day a doctor pleaded on behalf of a wounded Iraqi boy, knowing his words could mean the difference between life and death for the child. The afternoon a husband grieved his loss by softly muttering his wife's name on a bomb-scarred road. The day troops gathered to remember a buddy at a memorial service that closed with a somber roll call, the soldier's name repeated three times to no reply.
    There were many such experiences in nearly 500 days in Iraq.
    Over that long haul, the soldiers drove 2.4 million convoy miles, conducted 5,200 patrols, discovered 462 improvised explosive devices, captured more than 400 suspected insurgents.
    This is the story of a very long deployment of a very long war � of how members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team/34th Infantry Division lived and died in Iraq, how their families endured while they were gone, and how what happened in a far distant land still resonates today. ___
    Malmberg's mother, Teri Walen, didn't want him to go to Iraq. She didn't support the war, didn't think her only son should be there. She tried to talk him out of it.
    "Do you think war is a good thing?" she asked when he called one night.
    "No," he replied. "What do you think, I'm crazy?"
    But Malmberg was stubborn and determined, and convinced his mother he had good reasons for going. Wiry and intense, a mixed martial arts buff and former Army welterweight boxer, Malmberg had eight years of military training � including a stint as a paratrooper at Fort Bragg, N.C. � but he had never served his country in combat. Now he had the chance.
    On July 15, 2006, the official word came down: The 1st Brigade Combat Team � nicknamed the Red Bulls � would be deployed. Some 2,600 folks from Minnesota, bolstered by two Guard units from Iowa and Nebraska and troops from 33 other states, would put their lives on hold to take up arms.
    These were not, for the most part, full-time soldiers. They were members of the National Guard, farmers and factory workers, salespeople and mechanics, doctors and students. Among them were fathers and sons, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, pool-playing buddies, former high school football rivals, classmates and neighbors.
    Malmberg was just a semester shy of finishing college, but his degree would have to wait. He bought a $400,000 life insurance policy and named his sister, Jess
    ica, as the beneficiary.
    But Teri's biggest worry really wasn't that her son would die in Iraq.
    Her fear was that he'd be disabled and need care the rest of his life � that he would be unable to pursue a childhood dream and become a police officer, like his father and uncle.
    Death or disfigurement were not the things Chad feared; he was afraid only that he might fail the soldiers who depended upon him to lead an infantry squad.
    And so he packed his gear and headed south, to Camp Shelby, Miss., where the 1st Brigade Combat Team holed up for six months in barracks that had been flooded by Hurricane Katrina.
    There, amid downed trees and buildings that had lost their roofs, they trained, practiced their marksmanship, studied Iraqi culture and learned to work as a team.
    As they edged closer to Iraq, some made big changes in their lives.
    John Kriesel and his longtime partner, Katie, dashed down to City Hall in St. Paul, Minn., with their two sons, Elijah, 4, and Broden, 3, to wed.
    Kriesel � the kind of guy who dressed up in his brother's Army fatigues when he was just 10, the kind of guy who persisted in his relationship with Katie only when she confirmed she had voted for George W. Bush � was all pumped up to go to Iraq.
    He asked Katie for permission. It's not a fair question, she said � if she said no, he'd resent her, and if he said yes, she'd blame herself if anything happened to him.
    "Will you regret it when you're 30 if you don't go?" she asked.
    "Yes," he said.
    On a family vacation in Florida, Kriesel talked with his sons about the war. He was going to fight the bad guys, he said, in a faraway place called Iraq so everyone there can be free.
    Are you going to die? his boys asked. No, he assured them.
    Are you going to come back OK? they asked. Yes, he said, I'll be fine.
    Kriesel talked of death only once, with Katie.
    Promise me one thing, he said: If I die, don't go on TV and criticize the war, as the mother of one fallen soldier did, famously � "Don't go Cindy Sheehan on me." And don't let my boots be used in one of those anti-war demonstrations.
    The granddaughter of two World War II veterans, the sister of a soldier, Katie understands the military. You can depend on me, she told her husband.
    J.R. Salzman and his fiancee, Josie, also decided to marry before he shipped off to Iraq; if something happened to him, Salzman wanted Josie to receive spousal benefits.
    Salzman drew a four-day pass from Camp Shelby, and they eloped to New Orleans. The city was still recovering from Katrina; the courthouse wasn't open, the phones weren't working right, but Josie was undeterred. They married in a brief ceremony at a judge's elegant home.
    In Iraq, Salzman would be just another soldier. At home, he was a celebrity of sorts � the five-time world logrolling champion, a title that earned him appearances on ESPN, stunt work in a Steve Martin movie and fan mail from all over.
    That was how he met Josie. One day she tuned in to ESPN's "Great Outdoor Games" and there he was, brown-haired, muscular, confident, agile, rolling along. She dropped him an admiring e-mail. A date at a Steak 'n Shake followed, along with the discovery they had common interests (including fishing) and small-town roots (he was from Wisconsin, she was from Michigan). Love blossomed.
    When they said goodbye, Josie was just 19, and had been a married woman less than a month. ___
    Dathan Gazelka was at Camp Shelby, along with his younger brother, Daniel. They left behind a proud father, and a nervous mom.
    Dathan would be a team leader in Iraq. As a former Guard recruiter, practically every guy under his command would be someone he signed up. He'd played pool and shared beers with them, he knew their families, too. He felt a special sense of responsibility; they were going because of him. There was no way he'd stay behind.
    He wasn't crazy about leaving his wife, Mandy, and his family. Anyone who wasn't scared about heading into a war, he thought, was either lying or crazy.
    Dathan left behind for his wife two things: a flashlight and a shotgun, just in case she needed them for protection in the remote, wooded area where they live outside Bemidji, Minn.
    Mandy may look delicate with her porcelain features; she's anything but. She's handy with a gun and has hunted deer, grouse and small game since she was 12. She also knows her way around the tool box: She can fix a hot water heater, replace a flat tire and do any task around the house.
    She put on a brave face when she said goodbye to her husband in Mississippi. No tears, she told herself. It wasn't until days later, when she was home alone, that she cried.
    So many goodbyes, none of them easy. ___
    Janelle Johnson signed up for the Guard as a teenager, but now she was a full-time Guard member and the mother of two little girls. Emily was not even a year old, and Elizabeth was 4. It was her duty to go, but she wondered: Would her girls forget her? And how would her husband, Chad, manage?
    She prepared him as best she could. She created a spreadsheet of all their bills. He would have to write the checks now, take the girls to day care and the doctor, make them dinner, and tuck them in every night.
    Her mind raced with questions: Would Chad know when to start using solid baby food for Emily? Would he remember all the appointments with the pediatrician? He hadn't read all the baby books. She had. He didn't have a mother's instincts. How could he?
    Janelle knew he would need support. She spread the word to her sister, her mother, the day care teacher: "Take care of my babies."
    She left her girls reminders, too. She videotaped herself holding her daughters in her lap and reading them stories, so Chad could play them when she was gone. She recorded herself playing with baby Emily, so she could see her mom's face.
    Chad works for an environmental drilling firm and he had already told his bosses he couldn't travel anymore. He needed to be home every night.
    Before she left for Iraq, the Johnsons took a vacation together in Florida. Emily was a year old, but her mother had missed nearly half her life while training in Mississippi.
    She tried to get her baby to take her first steps, but Emily wasn't ready.
    And when Emily injured herself in a fall and Janelle tried to scoop her up and comfort her, the little girl screamed and looked at her as if her mother was a stranger.
    That night, in bed, Janelle cried: Emily doesn't remember me. Chad tried to reassure her.
    A few days later, Janelle kissed her daughters goodbye. You won't see me for a long time, she told Elizabeth, and with that she returned to Mississippi, her stomach aching with emptiness.
    Col. David Elicerio, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, had visited Iraq in September 2005 to check out what lay in store for his troops....



  • UMMAlpha: Military "World's Wars", cultural perspective
  • Wars


    Iraq War, the Good News; Ryan's Story Part III

    "PRODUCED BY FAITH-STORIES.COM It may be difficult, maybe even impossible to see any good that can come from war especially if you're the one in the middle of it. But these soldiers say the good is now evident and that all of the destruction hasn't ruined a country or its people. Sergeant Wayne Woodman, Minnesota National Guard said, "There's a reason we were sent over there. We're doing a lot of the stuff we were sent for. We are there to help rebuild so that they can live more freely than they've been able to." On a personal note Lieutenant Ryan Gore also with the Minnesota National Guard added, "I had this one guy come to me and talking through an interpreter said, 'We were asleep and now our eyes are open. No hard feelings?" Being a member of the American military is an enormous responsibility and comes with a huge sense of pride. For so many of these soldiers, they enlist willingly and for some it is even a direct calling from God. They serve and protect our freedoms in foreign countries only to return home and see the truth, as they experienced it firsthand distorted by the secular media."
    GoodnewsEverybody: Issues-Negative

    101 Ways to Support Our Troops
    "Whether or not you agree with our current foreign policy, it is important we all support the brave men and women serving in the U.S. Military. You may not be sure what to do, how to help, or how to get started. These 101 ideas are offered to help propel you to get started and then guide you as you move forward. Be sure to watch our exclusive flash movie called a Special Tribute at"
    *With God's help!

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