Vermont National Guard Logo News
News | Oct. 21, 2021

Biathlon opportunities attract Washington native

By Joshua Cohen Vermont National Guard Public Affairs

Serving in a dual capacity, Pfc. Eli Nielsen’s days are fully occupied. An M-Day, 15 Tango, Black Hawk helicopter maintainer with Det. 2, Charlie Company 1st Battalion 224th Aviation Regiment, Nielsen is also a member of the Guard’s Biathlon team.

Growing up in Washington State, with exposure to outdoor winter sports, Nielsen developed an interest in Biathlon. Attending college in Montana, Nielsen said that "school and working part-time while trying to pursue Biathlon was expensive, time-consuming, and things just were not adding up.”

Participating in numerous Biathlon events, Nielsen met several members of the Vermont Guard biathletes. “I raced against the Vermont team.”

Interested in joining the military since he was young, Nielsen said “none of the team ever directly asked me if I wanted to join the Vermont Guard, but it was always out there.”

Nielsen said that “enlisting in the Guard was a kind of a no-brainer, it was a really good opportunity where I could gain skills working on helicopters, have my school tuition paid for, and I could serve the country while pursuing Biathlon with an awesome team here in Vermont.”

Nielsen said he had little military knowledge before enlisting. After signing up on June 12, 2020, he was sent to the Vermont Guard’s Biathlon training facility at the Camp Ethan Allen Training Center in Jericho.

“I was at CEATS living and training with the Vermont National Guard Biathlon Team until October when I left for basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina and then advanced training at Fort Eustis in Virginia.”

“With the team at CEATS, it got to the point where I heard so many stories and pieces of advice that I was ready to go to basic training and have my own stories, my own experience.”

Nielsen said his decision to enter the military was not only for Biathlon.

“I joined for the opportunities the Guard presented, to take Biathlon to the next level of international competition, my goal is to become a member of the US Olympic Biathlon team, but that’s not the only reason, my father served as an Army Ranger and I’d like to attend Ranger School at some point.”

Vermont National Guard Biathlon Coordinator Maj. Kevin Elmer said Nielsen is a very professional and diligent Solider, "he’s always seeking to improve himself both as a Solider and biathlete.”

“Joining the Guard was a big decision for me, it took a while to weigh the options and now I am so happy that I joined, the team has a super coaching staff, however, it is a professionally military organization held to a higher standard, people on the outside can see that,” Nielsen said.

National Guard News
An F-15 Eagle assigned to the 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard, flies over the Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Georgia, during exercise Sentry Savannah 22-1 May 12, 2022. Sentry Savannah is the Air National Guard’s premier counter air exercise, encompassing 10 units of fourth- and fifth- generation fighter aircraft.
Sentry Savannah builds warfighter readiness, lethality
By Tech. Sgt. Morgan Whitehouse, | May 25, 2022
SAVANNAH, Ga. – About 1,300 Total Force Airmen, joint personnel and civilian partners and more than 50 airframes participated in exercise Sentry Savannah May 2-15.Hosted by the Air Dominance Center at Savannah’s Combat...

Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, visits with Hawaii Army National Guard members, Maui, Hawaii, March 5, 2022. Hokanson testified May 24, 2022, before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense about operations of the Air and Army National Guard.
Recent events, past decades have transformed Guard, chief says
By Air Force Master Sgt. Erich B. Smith, | May 24, 2022
ARLINGTON, Va. – The past 20 years have proven the National Guard has transformed from a strategic reserve to an operational force, the chief of the National Guard Bureau told lawmakers Tuesday.Addressing the House Committee...

Two F-15C Eagles from the 144th Fighter Wing and two F-22 Raptors from the 3rd Fighter Wing prepare to take off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, April 18, 2022, during an Aerospace Control Alert training scramble. It has been almost a decade since F-15 Eagles have sat alert in the region, protecting the airspace of the United States and Canada.
144th Fighter Wing trains for fighter jet integration in Alaska
By Capt. Jason Sanchez, | May 24, 2022
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Ten U.S. Air Force F-15s and more than 200 Airmen assigned to the California Air National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing deployed to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, to support Dissimilar Aircraft...

A ceremonial groundbreaking is held May 19, 2022, for an energy resilience project at Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, California. From left: Stephanie Kline, project director, and Robert Hughes, executive director, both with the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives; Robert Smith, president of Bright Canyon Energy; Paul Farnan, principal deputy, assistant Secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment; U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Refugio Rosas, from the 40th Infantry Division, California Army National Guard; Anthony Marasa, project manager with Bright Canyon Energy; and Lt. Col. Manju Vig, garrison commander of Joint Forces Training Base, Los Alamitos.
Solar project begins on Los Alamitos joint base
By Staff Sgt. Crystal Housman, | May 24, 2022
LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. – A 100-acre solar project that will bolster the power grid in Southern California and provide two weeks of emergency power for Joint Forces Training Base, Los Alamitos, broke ground May 19.The...

Alabama Air National Guard Master Sgt. Nathan Friday refuels a KC-135 Stratotanker the day before a joint midair refueling exercise with the 117th Air Refueling Wing and Romanian Air
Force in Bucharest, Romania, May 16, 2022. The Alabama Guard and Romania are partners under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program.
Alabama Air National Guard, Romania complete exercise
By Sgt. Samuel Hartley, | May 24, 2022
BUCHAREST, ROMANIA - Alabama Air National Guard members from the 117th Air Refueling Wing conducted a week-long joint exercise with the Romanian Ministry of Defense and Romanian Air Force.U.S. Airmen and Romanian F-16 pilots...