Red Bull Infantry under new command, preparing for deployment
The new commander of the Red Bull Infantry Division in Rosemount understands all the emotions experienced when a son or daughter is deployed in combat to protect Americans and their freedoms. Major Gen. Ben Corell has three sons who have chosen to protect and serve.
Corell assumed command of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division on Dec. 9, during a ceremony in Rosemount. The assignment is for a three-year term and begins as the division prepares for potential deployment to Asia.
More than 10,000 soldiers fall under the Red Bull Infantry Division, but Corell said more than 24,000 soldiers from across the United States maintain a training relationship with the Minnesota division.
"We have got some great people from all ranks and all walks of life, and being a citizen soldier is a challenge and we are a volunteer force and we volunteer to put on the uniform not only as a member of the Minnesota National Guard but for the U.S. Army," Corell said.
"In most cases, most of our formation is made up of citizen soldiers who have another job somewhere and they serve part-time," Corell added. "To me, that is the beauty of this type of organization, and that is really the strength of the National Guard is bringing these folks in who have other jobs and who are leaders in the their own community and it's just a privilege to be a part of it."
The infantry division's former leader, Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, became the adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard.
As part of the Guard's command changes, Maj. Kristen Augé is now in charge of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, which provides internal logistics, communications and security for the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division Headquarters. The DHHB is headquartered in Inver Grove Heights and has five subordinate companies: Headquarters Support Company in Inver Grove Heights; A Company (Operations) and B Company (Intelligence and Sustainment) in Rosemount; C Company (Signal) in Faribault and the 34th Infantry Division Band in Rosemount, according to Sgt. 1st Class Ben Houtkooper in public affairs.
"We work together to pool resources and pool training events and this is an opportunity for units that do not have divisions since we only have eight National Guard divisions, and this enables us to partner up to army divisions and increase our training capabilities and this gives the group synergy," Corell said.
The local unit will be on call to answer domestic response capacities during the Super Bowl to support local law enforcement in Minneapolis.
Today, Corell, 56, also works full time for the Iowa National Guard as deputy adjunct general. He will be commuting back and forth to Minnesota.
Approaching 32 years of service, Corell said the last 15 years of his military career have been very busy.
"The old days of National Guard being one weekend a month and two weekends in the summer is gone, and I spend a lot of time in my office in Minnesota at Camp Ripley or anywhere I am required to go as the commander of the 34th Infantry Division," he said.
"I spend a lot of time balancing my responsibilities as deputy adjunct general for Iowa and commander of the 34th Infantry Division in Minnesota."
Family military service
His sons, Wade, Travis and Tyler, all serve their country today in the Iowa National Guard.
"All three were deployed to Egypt with me when I was a battalion commander, and when I deployed to Iraq with the First Brigade out of Minnesota, my youngest son was with me for that long deployment we had," Corell said. His oldest son deployed to Afghanistan with him.
"They grew up and understand the sacrifice of what it means to be a citizen soldier," Corell said.
"I taught them how to repel out of trees in the backyard and they liked the outdoors, but they also saw the opportunities by being a citizen soldier, and they also saw the sacrifice in the service that you give back to our communities, state and our nation," Corell said.
His wife, Beth, serves as the endearing foundation of his family, Corell said. "She is really the reason I have been able to do this because if she wouldn't put up with it, I wouldn't be able to do it for this long."
Corell's great-grandmother was a Daughter of the American Revolution. His grandfather served in the U.S. Marines during World War II in the Pacific, and his father served in the U.S. Marines, without serving in combat, during the 1950s and '60s.
"When I was just a kid, my father would take me to the VFW hall in town, and we just had a lot of respect for those veterans from World War II, the Korean War or Vietnam and I respected how those people carried themselves," Corell said.
"Giving back through service is important and I believe I have instilled that into my sons, as well, and I am proud of who they are and the men they have become and I am proud of the career paths they have chosen," Corell said.
Red Bull Infantry Division has been notified and alerted of a potential deployment this fall.
"We are still sorting through what exact numbers it will mean and we are focused on the central command area of operations," Corell said.
"This will be my sixth deployment overseas and so I have the career experience deploying with the formation of the Red Bull soldiers and we will go where our nation asks us to go," Corell said.
There will be a major training event in late May and June at Camp Atterbury in Indiana.
"I am honored and privileged to be division commander of the organization that has a proud history of over 100 years and the division celebrated its 100-year anniversary last year," Corell said. "We are very busy and very professional and I am so excited to have the opportunity to be a part of this historic organization."