News: Brigade bids farewell at ceremony
Story by Spc. Thomas Keeler
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - With completion of its official departure ceremony May 22, the 1st Brigade Combat Team has cleared one more milestone on its way to mobilization and deployment to Operation New Dawn, the military operation in support of Iraq drawdown operations.
The brigade held the ceremony at historic Fort Snelling, on the parade field within the original lower post, before an audience of almost 200 family members and supporters.
“The families are eager to see their troops in this important, historic environment,” said Maj. Blane Iffert, who is deploying with the brigade and has previously served as Minnesota National Guard command historian. “This is one of the last opportunities for friends and family to gather.”
Fort Snelling dates back to the 1820s. Troops joining the Union Army mustered at Fort Snelling in 1861, and the post was also used in 1941 to process service members for World War II.
The departure ceremony “commemorates not only the First Minnesota, leaving 150 years ago for the Civil War, but the 1st Brigade, whose lineage is traced back to the First Minnesota,” said Iffert.
This will be the second deployment for the Brigade in the past six years. Prior to this, the Brigade was mobilized from September 2005 to July 2007, almost 22 months, a record for the current war.
Pvt. Brandon Huynh, of the 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery, a former Marine going on his first deployment, said the training has been good and his unit is ready. “It will be a good experience,” said Huynh.
During the year long deployment, Huynh plans to communicate back home with his wife via Skype, Facebook, or any other means possible.
A driving rain began to fall about midway through the ceremony, but that did not deter either the soldiers in formation, the guest speakers, or the sequence of events. Gov. Mark Dayton, for his part, refused an umbrella when offered and made his remarks as planned.
“If the soldiers can stand out there and take the rain, so can I,” said Dayton.
“We’re just honored to be in their presence,” Dayton continued afterwards. “They are true American heroes, and their families as well are making the sacrifice.”
“Godspeed to all of them. They’re going to come home safe.”