Welcome home, soldiers!
National Guard troops return Sunday
Lori Ehde photos
Crowds gather at the National Guard Armory in Luverne to welcome home returning soldiers.

Soldiers from Alpha Battery 1-125th Field Artillery Battalion returned home to Luverne around noon Sunday.

They were welcomed home with an escort through Luverne by the Patriot Guard, Rock County Sheriff's Department and Luverne Fire Department.

Families and soldiers gathered at the Luverne Armory for a short welcome-home ceremony.

Luverne's Terrie Gulden, who served that day with the Patriot Guard, told the troops he was there when they left, and he was glad to be there Sunday when they returned.

"Thank you for your unselfish service," he said. "We are proud of you."

The Luverne and Pipestone units that make up the 125th are part of the First Brigade Combat Team known as the Red Bulls. Their latest mission was to provide support in the drawdown of troops from Iraq.

According to Army Maj. Paul D. Rickert, public affairs officer for 1st Brigade Combat Team,

This deployment is recognized as the largest deployment of the Minnesota National Guard since World War II.

The Red Bulls are also known as having served the longest tour of duty in Iraq of any military unit, active or reserve, during the surge 2007.

During this deployment, the brigade's mission included base management, convoy security, reaction forces and management of specialized units from the Army, Navy and Coast Guard.

The brigade drove 2.8 million miles and escorted 27,000 trucks during 1,200 missions prior to the last U.S. military convoy departing Iraq.

Deploying with Alpha Battery 1-125th Field Artillery Battalion in Luverne and Pipestone were more than 160 soldiers from multiple communities in the region.

More than 150 of them have returned, and about 90 were able to participate in Sunday’s welcome home ceremony in Luverne.

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