Convoy, farewell ceremony for 682nd is today
WILLMAR -- The community is invited today to say farewell to members of the Minnesota National Guard 682nd Engineering Battalion based in Willmar who are preparing for a nine-month deployment to Kuwait.
WILLMAR - The community is invited today to say farewell to members of the Minnesota National Guard 682nd Engineering Battalion based in Willmar who are preparing for a nine-month deployment to Kuwait.
“This will be the first deployment for two-thirds of the unit,” said Lt. Col. Keith Ferdon, battalion commander, in a news release. “Our battalion will be part of Task Force Wild in Kuwait. As a Minnesota hockey fan, that is pretty cool.”
According to information from the National Guard, pre-deployment training for 159 soldiers began May 9 at Camp Ripley, and they will leave from Minnesota for additional training in Texas.
A vehicle processional will begin at 9 a.m. today at the Willmar Armory, including military vehicles carrying the soldiers to be deployed.
They will be escorted by Patriot Guard motorcycles and the Willmar Police and Fire departments. The convoy will travel north to the Flags of Honor display and then turn to go south along First Street to the Highway 71/23 bypass.
The convoy will take the bypass to U.S. Highway 12, where it will exit and travel north on Kandiyohi County Road 9 to the Willmar Senior High School, where the departure ceremony begins at 11 a.m. in the gym.
The public is invited to attend the ceremony and also encouraged to gather along the route of the convoy beforehand to wish the soldiers well.
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith is slated to speak at the ceremony, according to Smith’s office, and is expected to be accompanied by Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, the adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard. Area legislators and members of Minnesota’s federal delegation also may be in attendance.
The unit members are from 99 communities across the state. According to a fact sheet from the Guard, there are 33 female soldiers and 126 males, and ages range from 19 to 56 for an average age of 29 years old.
The battalion’s mission is managing engineer sustainment operations throughout the Middle East, which means, Ferdon said, that the troops will manage road and building infrastructure maintenance for coalition forces.
They will be headquartered at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.