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
"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.
"...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..."
Minn. man gives millions in fund to soldiers, Posted at: 02/25/2008 08:47:17 PM
By: Nicole Muehlhausen, Web Producer (KSAX.com) "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."
"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.)
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.)
"...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. ..
"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
"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 www.A-Special-Tribute.com"
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