90 soldiers coming home

Published 10:11 am Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The greater Austin community, friends and family of the 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry are scheduled to gather for Welcome Home Ceremonies Thursday following the unit’s return from a 12-month deployment in support of the Kosovo International Security Force (KFOR) and NATO peacekeeping operations in Kosovo.

According to the Minnesota National Guard, 400 soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry conducted peacekeeping operations in Kosovo as part of “Task Force Bayonet,” and were instrumental in keeping peace during that nation’s declaration of independence.

The unit was responsible for security, intelligence, communications, re-supply, civil military operations and reconstruction missions, traveling more than 500,000 miles in Kosovo.

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While deployed, the soldiers completed more than 12,000 security patrols, set up 1,500 Vehicle Control Points, discovered five weapons caches, turned over 23 suspected rebels to the Kosovo Police Service, established more than 340 LP/OPs (listening post/observation post) and provided logistical support for two patrol bases.

In addition, the 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry provided medical treatment to more than 1,000 local civilians and completed four Kosovo reconstruction projects totaling more than $75,000.

The 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry distinguished itself in Kosovo with the following awards: 34 Army Achievement medals, 27 Army Commendation medals, seven Meritorious Service medals, 2,105 Service Awards and promoted 224 soldiers.

The returning soldiers are from the 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry headquartered in Mankato. The specific units that were deployed are as follows: Headquarters and Headquarters Company in Mankato; A Company in West St. Paul; B Company in Rochester; D Company in Albert Lea; and F Company, 334th Brigade Support Battalion in Austin.

The 90 soldiers from Austin are expected to arrive 5 p.m. Thursday.

The armory will open after 1 p.m. Thursday for decorating the drill room/gymnasium for welcome home ceremonies.

The public is invited to attend Thursday afternoon’s arrival and assemble outside the armory to greet the returning soldiers.