Bravo strikes chord with music festival

From Afghanistan to Country USA
by Vaughn R. Larson Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs


Capt. Matt Mangerson, commander of the deployed Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Battery B, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, addresses the Country USA audience in a video produced to be shown in conjunction with the Toby Keith performance June 29. Battery B is presently conducting a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System mission in Afghanistan. — Wisconsin National Guard photo by Sgt. Sean Huolihan Capt. Matt Mangerson, commander of the deployed Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Battery B, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, addresses the Country USA audience in a video produced to be shown in conjunction with the Toby Keith performance June 29. Battery B is presently conducting a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System mission in Afghanistan. — Wisconsin National Guard photo by Sgt. Sean Huolihan The Wisconsin Army National Guard's Battery B, 1st Battalion, 121st Field ArtilleryBattery B, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, recently sent a long-distance dedication to a massive five-day county music festival.

Country USA has been a popular destination for country music fans in the Plymouth-based High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) unit, but the unit's current deployment in Afghanistan has interrupted those plans for the past two years.

But in a classic example of adapting and overcoming, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Pembroke - the unit's morale and welfare officer - decided if the unit couldn't go to Country USA, then Country USA would come to the unit.

"The original idea was to have a grill-out, and we wanted it to be like home," Pembroke explained. "I thought that Country USA is kind of close to Plymouth, so we contacted the folks at Country USA to see if we can do our own little event here. They were all for it."


Members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 2nd Platoon, Battery B, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery in Afghanistan. The deployed unit recently held a unit morale event styled after northeastern Wisconsin’s annual Country USA music festival. — Wisconsin National Guard photo by Sgt. Sean Huolihan Members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 2nd Platoon, Battery B, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery in Afghanistan. The deployed unit recently held a unit morale event styled after northeastern Wisconsin’s annual Country USA music festival. — Wisconsin National Guard photo by Sgt. Sean Huolihan Dan and Cher Liebhauser, owners of Country USA, sent 30 T-shirts and a donated custom banner to Battery B. The unit held its event May 25, playing music by country artists scheduled to perform at Country USA this year. In addition to enjoying grilled food and non-alcoholic beer, Soldiers played beanbag toss tournaments and Frisbee. A U.S. flag that had been carried during a combat mission was displayed with the County USA banner, and a video of the Afghanistan event was sent to the Liebhausers to be shown before Toby Keith's performance.

In the video, Capt. Matt Mangerson - Battery B commander - thanks the Country USA audience for their support, and presents them with the U.S. flag seen in the background.

"Not only this unit, but all members in the National Guard were fortunate enough to receive the thoughts, prayers and consideration from their respective communities," Mangerson said.

Pembroke said the event was originally scheduled to last about two hours, but the Soldiers enjoyed the event so much it lasted much longer.

"It was absolutely worth the effort," Pembroke said.

Country USA completed its five-day run Saturday.


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