Saturday, October 06, 2007

Great job Minnesota National Guard!

Guard unit recognized for record deployment

By Sgt. Mary Flynn
National Guard Bureau

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Family and friends greet U.S. Army Soldiers from Charlie Company, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division as they arrive at the Cottage Grove Armory in Minnesota July 16, 2007. Minnesota National Guard's 1st Brigade Combat Team has been deployed for 22 months with 16 months out of the deployment in a combat zone. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Lynette Hoke) (Released)
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ARLINGTON, Va. (10/5/2007) - A recently-returned Minnesota National Guard unit is getting the kudos it deserves this week.

The House of Representatives passed a Concurrent Resolution Oct. 1 that commended Soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division on completion of their record deployment to Iraq. The unit’s 22-month deployment is the longest continuous deployment of any military unit during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 1/34th Brigade Combat Team received alert orders in July 2005. They mobilized in September and trained throughout the fall before finally deploying in March 2006. Originally set to return in February 2007, the unit was extended four months as part of the President’s “surge” strategy.

During its deployment, the 1st Brigade Combat Team completed 5,200 combat logistics patrols and secured 2.4 million convoy miles. They discovered 462 improvised explosive devices prior to detonation and captured over 400 suspected insurgents. They completed 137 reconstruction projects and helped start two Iraqi newspapers.

Over 1,400 members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team reenlisted during their deployment, and 21 members became United States citizens.

The 1/34th BCT is part of the famed Red Bull division, which has a long history of service. The division was sent to France during World War I, but did not see combat until World War II when they were the first division deployed to Europe. Coincidentally, the division has the distinction of having spent more days in combat than any other U.S. Army Division during World War II. The U.S. Rangers can also trace their roots to the 34th Infantry Division: 80 percent of the 1st Ranger Battalion consisted of volunteers from the 34th.

U.S. Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota authored the resolution along with U.S. Reps. McCollum, Ramstad, Ellison, Oberstar, Peterson, Kline and Bachmann. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar sponsored Concurrent Resolution 185 in the Senate, where it passed in July.

Congressman Walz has a personal history with the Red Bulls, having retired in 2005 as command sergeant major for the 1-125th Battalion of the 1st Brigade Combat Team: “I served alongside these Soldiers for many years and I could not be more proud of them. They endured their extended deployment with patience and determination and their distinguished service record in Iraq speaks for itself. Today, every Minnesotan should be proud to call the Red Bulls our neighbors and friends.”

The 1/34th is headquartered in Bloomington, Minn., and approximately 3,700 of its Soldiers are Minnesota National Guard members. The remaining 1,300 Soldiers hail from various states across the country, including Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Kentucky, Idaho and Washington.

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