Sendoffs for two Minnesota Guard units headed to Iraqby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
Ceremonies were held today for two Minnesota National Guard units heading to Iraq -- one in Oklahoma, the other in St. Paul.
St. Paul, Minn. — A deployment ceremony was held this morning in St. Paul for 70 soldiers who will soon head to Iraq.
The National Guard members are with the 211th aviation regiment, and will meet up with fellow Minnesota soldiers in Oklahoma before deploying overseas.
This will be the second time in Iraq for Sgt. Matt Harker, from the town of Zimmerman.
"I found out I was going back to Iraq a month after I got home. I've been home 11 months," said Harker. "We're doing good things over there. We're in aviation, we do good things."
The troops operate and maintain Blackhawk helicopters. They'll be responsible for medical evacuations and re-supply missions.
A similar sendoff ceremony was held at Ft. Sill in Oklahoma this morning for more than 700 members of the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, which will command and maintain Blackhawk, Apache and Chinook helicopters.
Officials say those troops will help transport cargo, personnel and materials in Iraq.
The brigade has been training at Fort Sill for the past three months.
After the ceremony, the St. Paul-based nonprofit group "Serving Our Troops" will provide a steak luncheon to the soldiers and their families.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
- All Things Considered, 08/04/2008, 5:50 p.m.