May 1, 2009

Guardswomen Going to New York City

Operation: Birthday Cake

Several women who have deployed with North Dakota Army National Guard units in recent years have been selected to take part in a Mother’s Day event in Midtown Manhattan.

“Operation: Birthday Cake,” a nonprofit partnership between Bake Me a Wish! and Soldiers’ Angels, will hand out 5,000 Freedom Cakes in Times Square to those who volunteer to “mother” a deployed service member. Another 5,000 cakes will be sent with hand-written notes to those serving overseas. As part of the partnership, Ladies of Liberty, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Heidi Squier Kraft and Friends of Island Academy, a New York City nonprofit, have joined forces with the Soldiers and their mothers or daughters to hand out the cakes from 7 to 9 a.m. May 5 in Times Square.

Ladies of Liberty is a team deployed by Soldiers’ Angels. The nonprofit group focuses on the needs of deployed female service members. Ladies of Liberty members who are North Dakota Guardswomen and will be taking part in the event include Sgt. Vanessa Mozinski, of Ardoch, N.D., and her mother, Gloria; Sgt. Amy Wieser Willson, of West Fargo, N.D., and her stepdaughter Molly, 15; and Sgt. Delicia Glaze, of Grand Forks, N.D., and her daughter Peyton, 8. Sgt.

Sara Braaten, of Hutchinson, Minn., and her mother, Barb, also will be taking part. Braaten previously served in the North Dakota National Guard and is now a member of the South Dakota National Guard’s Medical Command. Braaten, Mozinski and Glaze all deployed to Afghanistan with North Dakota’s 1-188th Air Defense Artillery, and Wieser Willson deployed to Iraq with the 141st Engineer Battalion.

The Guardswomen will be joined by Soldiers’ Angels National Communication Officer and Ladies of Liberty team director Shelle Michaels and her daughter Rebbekah McPherron, 13, of Grand Forks, and Squier Kraft, a Navy psychologist and mother of twin 5-year-olds who chronicled her seven months in Iraq in the book “Rule Number Two: Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital.”

According to an Operation: Birthday Cake news release, the partners “are creating a whole new paradigm on how to celebrate this national holiday (Mother’s Day), focusing on the role of non-traditional moms, and specifically those who play mothering roles for our nation’s Soldiers.”

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