After 11 months in the Middle East, MN National Guard soldiers will return home


After an 11-month deployment in the Middle East, more than 150 soldiers from the Minnesota Army National Guard will return home.

The soldiers in the 682nd Engineer Battalion will return to their Willmar base this weekend – a ceremony to welcome them home is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday at Willmar Senior High School.

The soldiers are from 99 communities across the state and range from ages 19-54, according to the Grand Forks Herald. For about 100 of them, it was their first deployment, said battalion commander Lt. Col. Keith Ferdon.

They were deployed to the Middle East in support of the U.S. military's Operation Spartan Shield.

As part of "Task Force Wild," the soldiers oversaw and executed 285 construction projects in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates – the projects were valued at $20.2 million, according to a news release. They also distributed and maintained equipment that increased the battalion's operational readiness from 59 percent to 91 percent.

"The soldiers of 'Task Force Wild' excelled in their mission, and were recognized across the theater for their hard work and dedication," Ferdon said in a news release. "I couldn't be prouder of how our soldiers represented the State of Minnesota."

Previously, Ferdon noted the irony of his Minnesotan battalion's role in the "Task Force Wild" saying, "As a Minnesota hockey fan that is pretty cool."

According to the Department of Defense, Operation Spartan Shield contributes to the military's ability to "counter, protect, defend and prepare while simultaneously building partner capacity" and ensuring that the U.S. "has the capability to win decisively in conflicts in the Middle East."

The 461st Engineer Company – an Army Reserve unit based in Fargo – as well a the 312th Engineer Company based in Duluth, were deployed to Kuwait in April for Operation Spartan Shield, according to Inforum and the Duluth News Tribune.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-04-22 at 4.12.50 PM

For The Week: Making cocktails at home? Here's how to do it right

Lindsay Guentzel's For The Week column features simple food and drink tips.

coronavirus, covid-19

Mayo Clinic study provides 'best guess' about pandemic's future in MN

Minnesota could be seeing decreasing numbers into the summer if the study is correct.

daunte wright funeral - siblings

Mourners remember Daunte Wright, plead for justice

Wright was killed by a now-former Brooklyn Center police officer on April 11.


HealthPartners: COVID hospitalizations driven by unvaccinated, middle aged adults

The health provider says the average age of its hospitalized patients is trending downwards.

Andrew Thomas booking photo

Man suspected of shooting at National Guard in Minneapolis faces more charges

He has now been charged in Hennepin County District Court with more serious crimes.


Investigation finds EPA mishandled oversight for PolyMet mine permits

A new report found the EPA didn't follow its own procedures when it submitted comments on the proposed project.


MDH's new COVID guidance urges weekly testing for those involved in sports

Those not involved in school sports are still advised to get tested every two weeks.

Trey Lance

With loaded QB draft class, now is the time for Vikings to act

With a strong class, this year might be the time to select Kirk Cousins' successor.

Kellen Mond

Coller: Is a 'developmental' quarterback worth it?

Matthew Coller writes a weekly Vikings column for BMTN, with more of his work found at Purple Insider.


National Guard sendoff ceremony.

Deploying to Middle East, MN Nat'l Guard troops get big sendoff

A departure ceremony was held in Eden Prairie on Friday.