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Minnesota National Guard
Bemidji-based National Guard troops back on U.S. soil

All members of Minnesota National Guard A Co 2nd Combined Arms Battalion 136th Infantry have landed at Fort McCoy, Wis, as of Monday They will be on their way home to Bemidji in less than a week.

Staff Sgt Seth Martell of the Bemidji detachment said he didn't have the exact time and date of the homecoming as of Monday night, but he predicted the Soldiers' return to Bemidji for late this weekend He said he should know the exact date and time sometime Tuesday morning.

Martell said the Red Bull Division Soldiers are now in the process of demobilization at Fort McCoy He said approximately 60 local Soldiers will be on the bus heading north on US 71 and Paul Bunyan Drive to their final formation at the John Glas Fieldhouse at Bemidji State University

"We would really like a large show of support alongside the road,"� Martell said.

He said the bus carrying the Soldiers will be escorted by State Patrol officers, who will hand over the responsibility first to Beltrami County Sheriff's deputies and then to the Bemidji Police and Fire Departments

At the Glas, Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann will give a short address, and 1SG John Solberg will make some closing remarks

"He's going to give the infamous words, "�Dismissed,'"� Martell said "That's what everyone is waiting to hear"

Then the Soldiers can go to their homes and families

The approximately 200 Soldiers in A Company were deployed in October 2005 for a one-year service in Operation Iraqi Freedom However, their deployment was extended The Soldiers based in Bemidji were among 2,600 in the biggest National Guard call-up since World War II

To welcome the Soldiers home, well-wishers can wave their Hero Hankies designed by the National Guard Homecoming Committee Hero Hankies are for sale at Bemidji supermarkets, City Hall and the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce Proceeds will support the Enlisted Men's Club at the National Guard Armory In addition, the Bemidji Pioneer plans to print a special page featuring the American flag on one side and "Welcome Home"� on the other

A citywide public celebration is also planned for Aug 25 after the Soldiers have had a chance to spend time with their families

Molly Miron Bemidji Pioneer
Published Tuesday, July 17, 2007

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