Minnesota National Guard
Red Bulls wrapping up deployment

As the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division prepares to leave Kuwait and travel back to Minnesota, the battalions working under the brigade case their colors as they wrap up their deployment.

The 1/34th BCT's 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor held a ceremony April 10 and the 1st Squadron, 94th Cavalry on April 3 to celebrate a triumphant end to an important mission.

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The mission accomplished by 1-194 during their deployment was a historic feat, which was vital to the drawdown of U.S. Soldiers and equipment from Iraq. They worked around the clock day after day to keep travel routes safe.

Sgt. Chad Swenson from Elk River, Minn., was a gunner on one of many convoy escort teams the 1-194 provided. For miles through the dark, hours at a time, Sgt. Swenson provided constant security as his convoy traveled over the highways of Iraq.

"It was ending a war. It means a lot in general just to bring everybody home," Swenson said, describing his feelings about the 1-194's mission.

During a ceremony held at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, Maj. Tadd Vanyo and Sgt. Maj. John Lepoqski put away the battalion colors. 1-194 closed an important chapter in their history as the command team prepared the battalion colors for the journey back home.

The 1-94 CAV wrapped up their mission in Kuwait with a casing ceremony Apr 3 at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. Col. Eddie Frizell, 1-94 CAV commander and Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Essig, the command team of 1-94 CAV, cased the colors as Soldiers and leaders of the 1-94 CAV looked on.

During the withdrawal of troops and equipment from Iraq, the 1-94 CAV performed convoy escort missions and traveled over one million miles.

"To see that the war is over is an amazing thing to be a part of,"said Maj. Mark Lappegaard, 1-94 CAV executive officer. "Having everybody come back safe and seeing that all these Soldiers get to go back home is a great thing."

The largest deployment of the National Guard Red Bulls since World War II, the 1/34th helped complete the largest logistical drawdown in history, and continued to honor the Red Bull legacy.

Once the wheels are up with Kuwait to the rear, the first stop on the way home will be at Camp Shelby, Miss. There, each Soldier will spend some time going through medical and dental exams, while also ensuring all paperwork has been successfully completed. However, the time spent at Camp Shelby will be short and Soldiers will be ever closer to returning home to Minnesota.

April 10, 2012
Story and photos by Pfc. Linsey Williams
1/34th BCT Public Affairs

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