Minn. Nat'l Guard members welcomed home

10:21 AM, Apr 11, 2010   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Red Bull Infantry Division were officially welcomed home Saturday.

More than 1,200 citizen soldiers from over 200 Minnesota communities served near Basra, Iraq.

"With no disrespect to our predecessors, these soldiers have proven themselves to be my greatest generation," a Red Bull Sergeant said.

From Specialist Love Washington, who's back from her first ever tour, to Stephanie Cassinos, the welcome home had adrenaline, as a soldier-made rap video was shown at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

"It was good seeing my family again," Washington said. "The addition of my new niece was a blessing in a half, it was great."

"I have a big appreciation for the things that I didn't realize were important to me before," Cassinos said. "Like standing under the shower for ten minutes at a time, instead of 30 seconds."

The adrenaline was mixed with emotion, however.

"It's part of what we do, but you don't like leaving anybody behind," Sgt. Cordie Davis said. 

Four Minnesota Red Bulls never made it back home to Minnesota.

"To the families of the fallen, on behalf of this great state, we are grateful, we will never forget, we remember," Governor Tim Pawlenty said.

"We know that you sacrificed so much and your families back home sacrificed, and some sacrificed everything," St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said. 

Some of the 34th Infantry Division accomplishments were ensuring that Iraqi Security Forces could protect their population and borders in southern Iraq, developing economic security and setting conditions for a successful drawdown of U.S. forces.

(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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