Deployment ceremonies were repeated in several area communities throughout 2004.
In February, the 367th Engineer Battalion, the single largest Army Reserve unit in Minnesota to mobilize in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Noble Eagle and Iraqi Freedom, left for duty in Southeast Asia.
The 367th Engineer Battalion, which provides support for combat units, is headquartered in St. Cloud with companies in Brainerd, Duluth, Mankato and a detachment in Fergus Falls.
About 129 soldiers from five states left for a deployment in Southeast Asia that could last up to two years. The 367th Engineer Battalion is the largest Army Reserve unit to mobilize since Operation Desert Shield in 1990.
Sgt. Mike Stasko, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 194th Armor, kissed his 8-day-old daughter, Aine, after the unit's deployment ceremony Oct. 16 in the Brainerd High School gym. Brainerd Dispatch/File photo
In October, the 152 Minnesota Army National Guard soldiers in Company A, 1st Battalion, 194th Armor, were deployed for training in Fort Dix, N.J. They left the United States for Kuwait days before Christmas. Many of these soldiers are from units based in Brainerd or Wadena, as well as St. Cloud.
The soldiers are on an 18-month deployment with 12 months of "boots on the ground" duty near Baghdad.
Company A, 434th Main Support Battalion from Camp Ripley was deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A deployment ceremony was conducted Nov. 19 at Little Falls Community High School. A majority of the 153 soldiers are from Brainerd, Little Falls, Pierz and St. Cloud.
They support the combat forces of Operation Iraqi Freedom with everything from personal clothing and food to fuel, culverts and trucks. They also are 45 percent women, representing the highest percentage of women in a Minnesota Army National Guard deploying unit.
Members of the Minnesota Army National Guard's Little Falls-based Company C, 142 Engineer Battalion returned this spring after being deployed for 14 months and serving more than a year in Iraq.
Company C deployed in late January 2003 to support Operation Iraqi Freedom by providing construction services, including building and maintaining bases and airfields. During their deployment they completed more than 350 assigned construction projects.
Two area men returned home after being injured in Iraq. Spc. Jim Vandenheuvel, rural Pierz, a 1999 Pierz Healy High School graduate, suffered severe injuries Feb. 12 after a bomb hit his patrol unit during an ambush at a prison near Baghdad. First Lt. Michael Stevens of Pequot Lakes suffered back injuries in a Humvee accident while on patrol Feb. 13 in Baghdad.
RENEE RICHARDSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.
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