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History
Minnesota National Guard
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
9/11/2006




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Minnesota National Guard to highlight diversity and leadership development at Women's Leadership Forum

Posted: 2017-09-15  10:45 AM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2017

MAPLEWOOD, Minn.- Nearly 650 soldiers and airmen are scheduled to attend the Minnesota National Guard's third annual Women's Leadership Forum at the 3M Corporate Headquarters Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.

"The Minnesota National Guard continues to diversify our force and grow strong leaders," said Brig. Gen. Sandy Best, chief of staff of the Minnesota Air National Guard. "Strong leaders are able to self-manage and channel emotions to produce desired behaviors and results."

The forum is part of an overall effort to promote an inclusive culture, diversify the organization, grow strong leaders and provide professional leadership development for both women and men. The topics will focus on emotional intelligence, leadership, high performing teams and creating a championship culture.



Minnesota Guardsmen tasked for support to Hurricane Irma relief efforts

Posted: 2017-09-11  02:20 PM
133 AW FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 11, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn.- This past weekend the Minnesota Air National Guard sent 41 Airmen to support response efforts for Hurricane Irma. Six Soldiers from the Minnesota Army National Guard also departed this morning to support relief efforts.

"I thank Major General Nash for his leadership, and the brave Minnesota National Guard soldiers who will provide assistance in Hurricane Irma response and relief efforts," said Governor Dayton. "I encourage all Minnesotans who are able to contribute to qualified relief efforts. Minnesota stands ready to assist those affected by Hurricane Irma in any way we are able."

The 41 Airmen come from the 133rd Airlift Wing based in St. Paul and have a variety of skillsets. Fourteen of the Airmen are with the unit's Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and specially trained in emergency medical evacuations. They are currently on standby at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois where they will support potential missions in the Caribbean or Southern United States. The remaining personnel comprised of Airlift Control Flight, Logistics Readiness and Security Forces, arrived today at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands where they will assist in recovery operations. The Airmen can support airports with skills and equipment to re-establish operations after disasters, secure aircraft and load and unload equipment.



Minnesota National Guard to send aviation assets to support Hurricane Harvey

Posted: 2017-09-01  10:42 AM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 1, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn.- Governor Dayton has approved 11 soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Combat Aviation Brigade to support response efforts for Hurricane Harvey. The soldiers will depart today from St. Cloud via CH-47 chinook helicopters to conduct aviation operations in Texas.

"I am glad that Minnesota will be able to assist the victims of the terrible tragedy in Texas, with 11 Minnesota National Guard soldiers accompanying two Chinook helicopters to join in relief efforts," said Governor Dayton. "I thank Major General Nash for his leadership, and the brave Minnesota soldiers, who will travel to Texas to provide this critical relief. I encourage all Minnesotans, who are able, to donate to the qualified relief efforts. Minnesota stands ready to assist in any way we can."

The Minnesota National Guard's 34th Combat Aviation Brigade is an Army National Guard unit that supports disaster response operations by providing aviation capabilities - both UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters.



'Highly Effective:' 148th Fighter Wing Excels

Posted: 2017-08-24  07:36 AM
148th FW DULUTH, Minn. - For four days in early August, a team of inspectors from the Air Combat Command's Inspector General team (ACC/IG) inspected, evaluated, verified and validated the Minnesota Air National Guard's 148th Fighter Wing (148FW) in Duluth.

The results were impressive.

From Thursday, Aug. 3rd to Monday, Aug. 7th, during the course of the 148FW's August Drill Weekend, nearly 50 inspectors flew up to northern Minnesota to take a closer look at the 148FW during a Unit Effectiveness Inspection (UEI).

Their white IG badges conspicuously dangling around their necks, the inspectors spoke at length with the 148FW Airmen, asking them about their training plans, and their file plans, their checklists and their ability to accomplish their given mission. Documents were reviewed, reports were validated and equipment was inventoried. The inspection was as thorough as it was exhaustive.



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