National Guard soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Kuwait
Nearly 3,000 Minnesota National Guard soldiers are scheduled to return to Minnesota during the next three weeks after serving in Afghanistan and Kuwait during the last year.
“This is an extremely busy time for the Minnesota National Guard as soldiers are demobilizing at multiple locations across the U.S.,” said Army Lt. Col. Kevin A. Olson, Minnesota National Guard Director of Public Affairs, in a news release.
“More than 2,500 soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, are arriving at Camp Shelby, Miss.,” said Olson. “This brigade has the distinction as being the largest deployment of the Minnesota National Guard since World War II and for supporting the final phase of the Iraq War during Operation New Dawn.”
“Forty-five soldiers from the National Training Mission-Afghanistan are scheduled to return to Fort Dix, N.J. after serving in Afghanistan,” said Army Maj. Gerald D. Halloran, mobilization readiness officer for the Minnesota National Guard. “These soldiers were involved in training, coaching and mentoring Afghan Security Forces, Coalition Forces and the Afghan Army in counterinsurgency operations.”
“Additional units returning from Afghanistan are C Company, 1-171st General Support Aviation Battalion and the Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems (TUAS) Platoon,” said Halloran. “Twenty-one soldiers from C Company provided medical evacuation support by use of UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. Twenty-one TUAS soldiers provided unmanned aerial reconnaissance collection and analyst support to the U.S. Central Command while deployed.”
“As our Minnesota National Guard soldiers arrive at the demobilization sites, they will undergo medical and dental examinations, attend briefings on federal and state benefits, conduct equipment turn-in and complete administrative documentation,” said Halloran. “Once they complete these tasks, we’ll send them home to Minnesota on chartered flights to Minneapolis. The final travel includes a bus ride to their respective armories.”
Given the complexity of transporting and out-processing nearly 3,000 men and women from combat duty, Minnesota National Guard officials reported they will not have firm dates and times for arrival at armories until approximately 24 to 48-hours prior to the actual homecoming event.
The National Guard reported buses will be arriving at 23 armories to include; Albert Lea, Alexandria, Anoka, Austin, Bloomington, Brainerd, Camp Ripley, Cloquet, Duluth, Hibbing, Hutchinson, Jackson, Luverne, Mankato, New Ulm, Owatonna, Pine City, Redwood Falls, Rochester, Sauk Centre, St. Cloud, St. Peter and Winona.”
For more information on the Minnesota National Guard, visit www.MinnesotaNationalGuard.org.