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Minnesota National Guard
2-135th Infantry returns from Kosovo

Friends and family lined the streets of several Minnesota towns July 10 to witness the return of Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 135th (2-135) Infantry from a year-long mobilization and deployment to Kosovo

The crowd mixed and resonated as anxious wives, excited children, relieved mothers, proud grandparents, and supportive veterans stood under a blue summer sky to welcome their Soldiers back to Minnesota They huddled along the sidewalk and road as the familiar roar of sirens and motorcycles confirmed what months of anticipation had assured them would finally happen: Their Soldiers were home at last

These Soldiers were part of an important and extraordinary moment in world history, as they were responsible for keeping peace in Kosovo during the nation's declaration of independence from Serbia "We were considered honest brokers by the locals," said Lt. Col. Michael Funk, commander of the 2-135 in Kosovo "Both the two opposing sides turned to US Soldiers more than anyone else" While deployed, these Soldiers completed more than 12,000 security patrols, set up 1,500 vehicle control points, discovered five weapons caches, turned over 23 suspected rebels to the Kosovo Police Service, and provided medical treatment to more than 1,000 locals With this kind of progress, it comes as no surprise that the 2-135 gained immense respect and confidence from the people of Kosovo

Funk believes that part of this progress comes from the fact that citizen-Soldiers have one big advantage

"One of the best things about National Guard Soldiers is they have a lot of civilian professions they bring to the mix and they're used to dealing with people," said Funk

In fact, 130 of Funk's Soldiers had the experience of serving once before in Kosovo

"Task Force Bayonet actually returned to the same identical area that they operated in 2004, so we had a lot of prior relationships with people," Funk noted

As much as the Soldiers took pride in their accomplishments overseas, it was monumental to come home to those who had missed and loved them all along

"We had a tough mission and they had a tough situation back home, too," said Funk "I really want to say thank-you to the families and to the people of Minnesota You have all been great"

July 10, 2135 returns from Kosovo - Low-Res

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