ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Long quiet, armory revived by transportation unit

CHISHOLM -- The National Guard Armory at the end of Lake Street in Chisholm is bustling these days, a big, welcome change from a year ago when the armory was used just twice a year.

CHISHOLM -- The National Guard Armory at the end of Lake Street in Chisholm is bustling these days, a big, welcome change from a year ago when the armory was used just twice a year.

The new 114th Transportation Company Unit, which celebrated its first anniversary training out of Chisholm this week, has brought life back to the armory.

The building fell into disuse when the former unit, an M-1 Abrams tanker crew, disbanded in 2001, Lt. Jeff Nilsen said. After that, the community used the armory as a base for a few events, but otherwise it was empty.

Recruitment has been strong since the Army National Guard opened the new unit, said Staff Sgt. Karl Stenlund, a trainer NCO with the unit. When the unit lined up for its first drill in January of 2007, there were just six people. Today, there are upwards of 150 members, both new recruits and former guardsmen who have rejoined, Stenlund said.

Part of the reason for the growing numbers, Nilsen believes, is the fact that women were not allowed to join the previous tanker unit.

ADVERTISEMENT

U.S. Army regulations prohibit women from performing a number of military duties; among them are serving in the combat infantry, as forward observer or cavalry scout, and on tank crews.

But women are allowed to serve in transportation units, such as the 114th.

The unit primarily trains to operate 55,000-pound palletized-load-system trucks. The 35-foot-long vehicles are used to quickly and efficiently load and unload large quantities of supplies, making them useful in responding to large-scale disasters.

The Chisholm unit maintains five of the new trucks, while the Duluth unit has 30, and more are scattered around the state.

Pvt. Amanda Jaskowick, of Braham, Minn., near Mora, is one of the unit's 35 or so female recruits. She joined the National Guard because of the benefits and for a chance to contribute to the country in times of need, she said.

Jaskowick, 18, said the 114th Transportation Company was the closest unit to her hometown. She performs maintenance checks on the palletized trucks.

Jaskowick said she likes serving with the unit, but there's just one inconvenience -- no female showers at the Chisholm Armory. She and other female members have to leave the unit to shower at a hotel in Hibbing.

The Chisholm unit's new trucks -- some with less than 200 miles on the odometer -- were christened during a ceremony on Friday. Nilsen cracked a bottle of champagne over the bumper of one of the fleet, dubbed the "Wolf Pack."

What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.