| Witnessing, now remembering the 9-11 attacks
Five years after witnessing the terror attacks of Sept 11, 2001, a C-130 flight crew from the Minnesota Air National Guard's 133rd Airlift Wing remembers the day like it was yesterday
Taking off from Andrews Air Force Base, the crew enjoyed the beautiful weather and admired the sun shining off the Potomac River It was Lt Col
Steve O'Brien, the aircraft commander, who spotted an airplane at his 10 o'clock position The aircraft was American Airlines Flight 77 that hijackers crashed into the Pentagon
"When I first saw the aircraft it was moving fast and that's when air traffic control called and asked, 'Do you see an airplane, can you tell me what kind it is,' and then asked for us to follow it," said O'Brien "Never in 20 years of flying was I asked to follow a commercial airliner"
A few minutes later, O'Brien and his crew witnessed the nation under attack without realizing it "We saw a fireball on the ground from jet fuel exploding and then saw the silhouette of the Pentagon through the haze of smoke," said O'Brien
After air traffic control received the report from O'Brien, the flight crew was advised to continue their original mission and return home to Minnesota
The F-16 fighter jets were immediately mobilized to patrol and secure the area
Starting the flight home, the crew tuned in a newscast using an old-style navigation radio Although they were expecting to hear about an airplane crashing into the Pentagon, the first thing the crew heard was that a second airplane hit the World Trade Center New York City was reported to be up in smoke And then reality struck; the nation was under an organized terrorist attack
Minutes later while the crew was flying over Pennsylvania air traffic control made contact with O'Brien and asked if they could spot another aircraft, Flight 93 After glancing in all directions outside the windows, smoke was detected barreling from an open field at the left hand side of the airplane
"I thought the smoke was from a farmer burning, or a junk yard," said O'Brien "I was trying to be optimistic - the last thing anybody wants is to witness two commercial airliners crashing in the same day"
O'Brien reported the position of the smoke to the air traffic controllers and then was directed to land at the nearest airport, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio When the crew landed they witnessed another rarity; many large aircraft crammed into one small airport All airplanes were grounded at airports across the nation
After landing, the aircrew participated in a debrief with the FBI and intelligence officers, explaining what they witnessed Once released for the evening, O'Brien checked into his room, turned on the television and watched a report on Flight 93 crashing in a field in Shanksville, Pa
"The news report confirmed what I saw, I knew it was an airplane crash," said O'Brien "After our initial crew rest, we were put on alert to assist the Air Reserve for a few days before returning to Minnesota"
Many sleepless nights followed for the crew O'Brien explained that after a few weeks he started to wake up in the middle of the night in a complete conscious state of mind When the pattern continued for him and other crew members, O'Brien gathered the group to meet with a flight doctor to discuss how the mind deals with post-trauma In the meeting the flight doctor explained how sleeping patterns would restore, and they did
But memories still come back like the experience was yesterday
Master Sgt Jeffrey Rosenthal, Flight Engineer, explained that on a daily basis he is reminded about his 9/11 experience by reading the newspapers, watching the television and reminiscing about a recent deployment to the Middle East
"Still today we see first hand the results of terrorism in the world," said Rosenthal "Because I witnessed it first hand, I have a deeper appreciation for what we are doing and I know why America is fighting"
O'Brien and Rosenthal deployed multiple times since 9/11 to support Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and are gearing up for another tour in early 2007
Five years after Sept 11, 2001, Rosenthal remembers the day clearly "I think I can speak for the crew and what we remember is not a memory, but a wish that it never happenedas time goes on, it seems like a memory that we all could have down without"
By 1st Lt Sheree Savage
Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Academy continues on Camp Ripley
Posted: 2016-02-03 11:48 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Minnesota State Patrol began its 57th Trooper Academy Jan. 25 at Camp Ripley.
"Our first training school was held on Camp Ripley from May to July of 1931," said Lt. Eric Barthel, training academy officer.
Since its creation on April 24, 1929, the Minnesota State Patrol has maintained a presence of state law enforcement officers on Minnesota highways. They became ambassadors of "good will" to let people see them, get acquainted with them and to enforce the provisions of the law.
Internet scams and impersonation
Posted: 2016-01-29 01:22 PM
The Army Criminal Investigation Command receives hundreds of allegations a month from victims who state they got involved in an online relationship with someone, on a legitimate dating website or other social media website, who claims to be a U.S. Soldier. The "Soldier" then begins asking for money for various false service-related needs such as transportation costs, communication fees, marriage, processing and medical fees. Victims of these online scams have lost tens of thousands of dollars, with a very low possibility of recovery.
The U.S. has established numerous task force organizations to deal with this growing epidemic; unfortunately, many times the people committing these scams are from foreign countries using untraceable email addresses, routing accounts through numerous locations around the world and utilizing pay per hour Internet cyber cafes, which often times maintain no accountability of use.
'Minnesota Nice' Makes Wounded Airman Feel at Home
Posted: 2016-01-28 01:50 PM
ST. PAUL, Minn. - During a 2013 deployment in Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Taylor Savage was in a vehicle hit by an Improvised Explosive Device. She suffered extensive life-threatening injuries and has undergone multiple surgeries.
Savage arrived in Minnesota last fall for the reconstruction of her pelvis at Hennepin County Medical Center. She and her mother stayed at the hospital several weeks and then moved to a hotel near the Mall of America to recover from the surgery before being cleared to leave Minnesota.
Minnesota military members and Minnesotans around the metro took it upon themselves to make this wounded Airman feel at home during her recovery.
Simulations training gets Minnesota Guard ready for battle
Posted: 2016-01-28 11:08 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Soldiers of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division began vehicle simulations training Jan. 9 at Camp Ripley.
"The first phase in meeting the Army's 'Ready' requirement is to certify every vehicle crew on the safe and effective operation of their vehicle and weapon platform," said Master Sgt. Rian Hofstad, master gunner for the 1st ABCT.
The main effort of the brigade's simulations training is being conducted on the Close Combat tactical Trainer. The CCTT system is a computer-driven, manned module simulator replicating the vehicles found in close combat units such as the M1 Abrams Tank, the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle. It is designed to provide armor, mechanized infantry, cavalry and reconnaissance crews with a virtual, collective training opportunity while reducing the cost and usage of actual equipment.