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Minnesota National Guard
682nd Engineer Battalion receives community send-off

682nd Deployment WILLMAR, Minn - The sea of red in the Willmar High School gym Thursday was more than a show of support for the Willmar High Cardinals Families and friends of the 682nd Engineer Battalion, wearing red unit t-shirts to Remember Everyone Deployed, gathered to send off the Willmar-based Minnesota National Guard unit prior to their departure for a deployment to Kuwait

The more than 150 Soldiers from the 682nd's Headquarters and Headquarters Company and Forward Support Company will travel to Fort Bliss, Texas, for additional training prior to departing for Kuwait in November The unit will be responsible for managing engineer sustainment operations across the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield

"We'll be deploying with horizontal engineers and vertical engineers so we can build across the ground or we can build upwards," said Capt Michael Lovas, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company "It really depends on what mission is given to us We'll be flexible to those needs and as engineers we can adapt to whatever mission or projects necessary"

The Soldiers come from 99 communities across Minnesota and South Dakota with an average age of 29

"The diversity of different communities and different civilian careers that we all hold when we're not drilling with our unit really brings different perspectives and different experiences to the team which makes us a stronger group overall and ready to provide that mission command for the 1,000 Soldiers that will be underneath us when we're in Kuwait," said Lt. Col. Keith Ferdon, 682nd battalion commander

This will be the first deployment for two-thirds of the Soldiers The more experienced Soldiers are sharing their knowledge and experiences to help prepare the unit for its upcoming mission

"The unknown can sometimes be hard to understand and prepare for but we've done a lot of sharing of information, of experience, and it allows everyone to be on the same page," said Lovas "I learned a lot during my last deployment and it made me a better person - a better Soldier - and it's kind of our responsibility to share that with the Soldiers who haven't been deployed before so they can prepare themselves and their families"

All of the speakers recognized the service and sacrifice of the families in attendance who carry a large burden while their loved one is away

"There's going to be a lot of waiting and worry, there's going to be a lot of stuff that just needs to get figured out on both sides; but everybody is going to figure out how to handle it and I want to thank you for that," said Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith

"You are truly the heroes of America's national security," said Col Troy Soukup, commander of the 84th Troop Command "You might not be wearing the uniform of our Soldiers, but you surely are serving our nation through your sacrifice, we salute you for your service to this country"

The unit received three flags to fly while they are deployed - a Minnesota flag, a Patriot Guard flag and a Minnesota Wild flag The unit has chosen to call themselves Task Force Wild

October 9, 2015
by Master Sgt Blair Heusdens
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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