Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Perspective: After 22 months, ‘home’ is a state of mind for Minnesota Guard unit

Top: Soldiers of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment of the Minnesota National Guard at a December memorial for (Below) fallen Army Sgts. Nicholas D. Turcotte, Corey J. Rystad, and Bryan T. McDonough.

As Pfc. Andrew Waldron would say — or, rather, as he would sing — it’s “The Final Countdown.”

Waldron, 26, of Richfield, Minn., has sung the song by the Swedish band Europe to amuse and annoy his friends on every patrol they’ve done in the farmlands on the western edge of Baghdad. As of the end of April, that was 425 patrols and counting.

Waldron and the soldiers with Outlaw Platoon, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 136th Minnesota National Guard are nearing the end of a 22-month deployment. From six months of training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi to an extended 15-month tour in Iraq, they’ve been away from home since October 2005. They are supposed to head home late this summer.

Overall, the Minnesota National Guard has been deployed to Iraq longer than any other military unit — active, Guard or Reserves.

Read the rest at Stars and Stripes