More than 650 men and women will resume their civilian lives in the next few weeks as Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Red Bull Infantry Division ends its 10-month Middle East mission.
Division members have been returning stateside during the past few weeks and will make a stop at Fort Hood, Texas, to finish the demobilization process before returning home.
While overseas, the division's mission was two-fold — regional security and helping build the military capacity of partner nations, including Kuwait, Oman and the Kingdom of Jordan.
“The mission went very, very well. We got a lot of very positive feedback from our higher headquarters,” Maj. David Adams said. “We spent a lot of time training with the different countries in the region, the Kuwaiti military, the Military from Oman, the military of the Kingdom of Jordan and had a great experience.”
The Red Bulls were responsible for leading U.S. Central Command’s Task Force Spartan, which increases military readiness and capability, in order to maintain regional stability and partnerships, according to information from the division.
When the Red Bull Division arrived in the Middle East they took the reins from the Pennsylvania National Guard's 28th Infantry Division. Mission command was handed off to the Indiana National Guard’s 38th Infantry Division on July 15, 2019. The division’s mission was 10 months — all but one of those months was served overseas.
The men and women of the division hail from 189 cities in Minnesota as well as more than a dozen cities in Wisconsin and a handful in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Virginia. A few members of the division came from as far as Utah, Washington, South Carolina, Nebraska and Maine.
“They had a tremendous amount of responsibility,” Adams said. “We had 20-year-old kids or 18-year-old kids who were traveling to different countries and serving as representatives of the United States working with partners from these other countries and that was pretty cool to see.”
At least one member of the division used their return home as a chance to surprise their family. WCCO-TV told the story of Master Sgt. Amy Barnum, who surprised her sons and her parents at the Midwest Regional baseball tournament in Waite Park.
The 34th Red Bull Infantry Division will hold its official welcome home ceremony on Aug. 27 at the Minnesota State Fair.