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Minnesota National Guard
Our view: Many hands embraced Welcome Home event

The good news is last weekend's "Welcome Home veterans" celebration at the St Cloud Civic Center was an overwhelming success Just ask the 500-plus people in attendance!

The not-so-good news is Central Minnesota likely will have more opportunities to be part of such events because local folks in the armed forces continue to be deployed worldwide First, though, let's focus on the success

Heroes and helpers

The bulk of the credit for this celebration rests with the US Army Reserve's 367th Engineer Battalion More than 300 of its members returned in December from a year in Iraq

Leaders of the 367th embraced this Editorial Board's communitywide call to welcome home these soldiers along with other recently returned veterans Indeed, the awards and speakers the 367th arranged for the ceremony made a strong statement about the service of the unit, its leadership and this area's commitment to supporting all veterans

The city of St Cloud, Mayor Dave Kleis and especially staff at the Civic Center also provided key support

Credit for the veterans service fair and kids activities goes to the St Cloud VA Health Care System, 4-H Youth Development/Operation Military Kids and the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Warrior to Citizen initiative

Other key contributors included:

AM 1450 KNSI not only promoted the celebration, but Dan "The Ox" Ochsner and Timmy Daniels broadcast live from the site for two hours

East Side VFW Post 4847, Short Stop Custom Catering, Women in the Military and Sauk Rapids Women of Today covered the refreshments

Talented and artistic signmakers, including family of deployed troops, young children working at home and students from these districts/schools: Rocori, St Cloud, Sartell-St Stephen, Sauk Rapids-Rice, and Sts Peter, Paul and Michael Middle School

Volunteers from the Qwest Pioneers, Great River Rotary of Sauk Rapids, and Business Women of Central Minnesota

More to come

Given America's role in world events, more Welcome Home celebrations will be needed Local deployments under way or planned that we know of include:
The 107th Test Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment Detachment of the Minnesota National Guard based at Camp Ripley left in February

St Cloud's Company B, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment left in November

Det 1/C Company 1-171st General Support Aviation Battalion will deploy in April
More than 2,400 members of the Guard's 1st Brigade Combat Team leave later this year

If you know of other units or individuals deployed and due to return within a year, please contact the Editorial Board at 255-8762 The board will work to help organize a similar Welcome Home celebration as needed

Written by Times Editorial Board
10:52 PM, Mar 26, 2011   

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Jensen most recently served as the Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. He previously held positions as Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Africa and Southern European Task Force, Minnesota National Guard Director of the Joint Staff and Minnesota National Guard Assistant Adjutant General - Army.

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