Albert Lea’s Delta Company returning home soon

Published 12:59 pm Friday, April 6, 2012

Albert Lea’s Delta Company of the Minnesota National Guard will soon be returning from their year-long deployment in Kuwait.

Because of the large number of soldiers returning to the states, there are no definite dates yet for return. Nearly 3,000 Minnesota soldiers, the largest deployment of the state’s soldiers since World War II, will be returning likely in early May.

“This is an extremely busy time for the Minnesota National Guard as soldiers are demobilizing at multiple locations across the U.S.,” Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, the state’s director of public affairs, said.

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Albert Lea’s Delta Company will return first to Camp Shelby in Mississippi, a demobilization site. Demobilization is the term for the transition between a deployment and return to civilian life. Soldiers will undergo medical and dental examinations, attend briefings on federal and state benefits, conduct equipment turn-in and fill out necessary documents, according to Army Maj. Gen. Gerald Halloran, mobilization readiness officer for the Guard.

“Once they complete these tasks, we’ll send them home to Minnesota on chartered flights to Minneapolis,” Halloran said. “The final travel includes a bus ride to their respective armories.”

Staff Sgt. Josh Barker, who works at Albert Lea’s armory, said it’s possible the Patriot Guard will escort the buses into town, but it’s all up in the air until they get a set return date. He said there will be a welcome home ceremony, but that it will likely be family-oriented.

“Soldiers want to focus on getting back to their family,” Barker said.

Olson also said that with the complexity of transporting 3,000 soldiers, there will likely not be a firm date and time for arrival until 24 to 48 hours before the soldiers arrive. He did say that buses would arrive at 23 armories including Albert Lea, Austin, Owatonna, Mankato, Rochester, Winona and more throughout the state.

Delta Company is part of the 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry Regiment within the 34th “Red Bull” Division of the Minnesota National Guard.