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Minnesota National Guard
Duluths 114th prepares to deploy to Afghanistan

Considering the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Pfc Zach Dudek figured it was just a matter of time before his Minnesota National Guard unit - the Duluth-based 114th Transportation Company - would be deployed

April 24, 2009

Considering the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Pfc Zach Dudek figured it was just a matter of time before his Minnesota National Guard unit - the Duluth-based 114th Transportation Company - would be deployed

Now he knows the time is soon The National Guard announced that the company's 187 Soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan this summer While Dudek, one of the company's drivers, is anxious about the mission's dangers, he's also no fan of waiting

"Too much time gives you too much time to think," the Duluth resident said Thursday morning after the official announcement at the Duluth Armory "There's always going to be concern going into this But we'll be very well prepared I think we'll be very well protected"

Company commander Capt Jeff Nilsen served in Iraq from June 2004 to November 2005 He expects to face similar threats in Afghanistan, but said the 114th will deploy with the training, leadership and equipment to accomplish its mission The unit will train in Minnesota before leaving in mid-June for Camp Atterbury, Ind, for more training

In Afghanistan, officials will continually assess what the company is doing and how well it works

"This mission is currently not being done," Nilsen said

American and allied forces are currently largely supplied by contract haulers or from the air The 114th is trained and equipped to haul supplies on trucks with fast self-loading and unloading capability To protect convoys, the unit will use armor-plated vehicles with V-shaped bottoms for protection against mines and IEDs

The company is going to Afghanistan to support the planned surge of American Soldiers in the country During the past several months, at least 2,400 Minnesota National Guard members have gone to either Afghanistan or Iraq

"Each of these call-ups is important," brigade commander Col Patrick Dwyer said "We are in the business of protecting the freedoms" that Minnesotans and Americans expect

Known as "The Wolfpack," the 114th is headquartered in Duluth with a detachment in Chisholm It was created two years ago

The company's members come from 108 communities from across the state This is the first deployment for the company and for 63 percent of its members, including Dudek More than a third of the company's members have been deployed at least once with other units This will be the third deployment for three members

A departure ceremony for the 114th is planned for June 17, before it travels to Indiana It is scheduled to leave for Afghanistan in July and return to Minnesota in June 2010

Steve Kuchera "¢ Duluth News Tribune

Read more at Duluth News Tribune
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