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Minnesota National Guard
Red Bulls: Coming home soon

National Guard soldiers may arrive home early

Posted: March 28, 2012 - 8:53pm
By Mike O'Rourke http://analyticsapnewsregistry.com/analytics/v2/imagesvc/brainerddispatch/RWS/brainerddispatch.com/CAI/22086/MAI/22086/E/prod
Associate Editor

The homecoming for the Brainerd-based soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Co, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor, will likely be a little early, but no complaints are expected from the loved ones who tearfully said goodbye to them last May at the Brainerd Armory

Capt Rob Grutsch, rear detachment commander for the battalion, said Wednesday many of the soldiers who have conducted convoy operations between Kuwait and Iraq as part of Operation New Dawn, are expected to return to Brainerd in mid- to late April, approximately a month ahead of schedule

In addition to the Headquarters and Headquarters Co, soldiers whose training is based in Alexandria, East St Paul, Sauk Centre and St Cloud, will return to armories closer to their homes in the same time period, Grutsch The soldiers will fly into the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport and be bused to locations close to their homes Grutsch said about 650 members of the battalion are a part of this deployment

The approximately 11-month deployment included training at Fort McCoy before the soldiers' arrival in Kuwait near the end of July Their convoy operations supported the drawdown of US troops in Iraq, bringing fresh supplies into Iraq and returning to Kuwait with equipment, Grutsch said

The Brainerd company is one of six battalions of Bloomington's First Brigade Combat Team 34th Infantry Division, known as the Red Bulls The Brainerd-based soldiers provided route security in support of US forces

"We're excited," Grutsch said, noting that soldiers remaining in Brainerd had been training and filling in gaps in the place of those were serving overseas

In addition they have worked closely with Theresa Rardin, the battalion's Family Readiness Support assistant, a contracted employee of the National Guard, whose husband is among those scheduled to return home Rardin assists families of deployed soldiers

"It's been awesome having her on here," Grutsch said

As the Iraq war winds down, Grutsch said it's possible National Guard troop deployments will occur with a little less frequency, although he noted that situation can change at any time

"There's not going to be anything (as far as scheduled deployments) on the radar," he said

Grutsch said there would most likely be a public ceremony at the Brainerd Armory when the soldiers returned home, although the precise date has not yet been scheduled

MIKE O'ROURKE may be reached at 855-5860 or mikeorourke@brainerddispatch.com He may be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MikeORourkenews
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