The deploying Red Bull soldiers represent 530 communities throughout Minnesota and 15 other states. Men make up 94 percent of the brigade, and 39 percent are leaving behind at least one dependent child or spouse.
Attrition and turnover partly account for why more than 60 percent of the Red Bulls soldiers headed overseas this summer have never served in combat before.
Freddy Munoz and his wife Jennifer say goodbye at their north metro home. Freddy is preparing to deploy with the National Guard for the second time. It comes at a difficult time: They are in the process of trying to adopt two children.
The story of two men of different generations and considerably different life experiences who will put their lives on hold to serve the Army. Above, Wes Moechnig, a dairy farmer who lives with his parents on their farm near Lake City.
The uncertainty of deployment meant Brian Wunderlich and Margarita Jacobson's wedding was planned quickly. Above, Margarita and her son Joseph after the ceremony.
Col. Eric Kerska is preparing to lead the Minnesota Red Bull soldiers into Iraq and Kuwait. He's been a soldier for nearly 30 years, and in the National Guard for more than 20 of them.
A University of Minnesota study is the first of its kind to focus on parenting in National Guard families with soldiers who've served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The aim is to help families cope with the impact of combat deployment.