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Minnesota National Guard
Alexandria Ceremony Honors Soldiers before Deployment (video)

http://ksaxcom/ksaxImages/DEPLOYPICwevJPGALEXANDRIA, Minn (KSAX) - More than 500 Minnesota solders are set to soon be deployed and Wednesday, several ceremonies were held throughout the state to show support

Signs of excitement, sadness, camaraderie, and respect filled the Runestone Community Center in Alexandria Wednesday as hundreds gathered to send off local troops the Alexandria unit is one of six units that will deploy to Kuwait and eventually Iraq after completing training at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin

The 1st Brigade Combat Team deployment is the second-largest Minnesota deployment since World War II and will be responsible for base management and security in Iraq

Soldiers said Wednesday's ceremony was a chance for them to feel the support they'll have from afar

"To hear the response of everybody around here and how the community's backing us, it's an awesome feeling to know that so many people are so proud of what we do," Spc Kyle Grutzmacher, of Elk River said

"When we bowed our heads and we let the crowd just let us know how much they supported us, that was probably the best feeling of today," Pfc Cole Erie, of Osakis, said

Many said it's a day they've been waiting for

"I've been looking forward to it for awhile I hope to grow both as a Soldier and as a young man And hopefully come out more squared away," Erie said

Erie, 18, said he's proud to follow in his father Mark's footsteps, seven years after Mark deployed to Kuwait

"My dad's a retired lieutenant colonel, and he was a big influence, but I also just want to serve my country and help pay for college" "It's a pretty awesome feeling to carry on the family tradition," he said

"It means a lot to me to be able to go over and fight for my county," Grutzmacher said

A sendoff parade is scheduled for Friday in Alexandria as the unit heads to Wisconsin for final training

Written for the web by Joe Nelson

Updated: 05/26/2011 4:08 PM KSAXcom
By: Joe Nelson

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