Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We will soon be welcoming back our Minnesota National Guard "Red Bulls" from deployment - very exciting!! For our part of welcoming these soldiers home - it will be and feel much different that Welcome Homes we have done and enjoyed in the past. We have all enjoyed the busses rolling in thru the flagline, seeing the mad rush of soldiers & families finding each other, and getting the opportunity to shake some hands and say "Welcome Home".

The National Guard is bringing the soldiers home this time as they finish their de-mobilization, and not by unit or geographical location - this is great for the soldiers - when they are done, they get on the next plane Minnesota bound. Once they land, they will be put on 8-9 different bus routes going throughout the state, to a designated bus stop closest to their homes. We can't publish the "daily bus stops" or the bus routes - as you know the military safeguards troop movement, and we have to do the same.

What we do know is where they will land and get on the busses and that will be our focus. There is the possibility of night arrivals, and multiple planes coming in at different times on any given day - we will hopefully have about 24 hour notice.

Daily staging and flaglines will be at the Light Rail Commuter lot on the SE corner of Hwy 62 (Crosstown Hwy) and Minnehaha Ave. 
It will be very important for each of you to be checking the MN PG calendar daily because it will be updated as soon as we know new information, - emails may not come out quick enough. We also want to make sure that everyone across the state, if available, can come help man the flaglines as the busses head out on their routes. Bring your lawn chairs and enough to be self sufficient, because we may have one plane come in and another one several hours later, and we want to make sure the soldiers see the flagline - they are all telling us they want to see us! There are no restroom facilities at the commuter lot, but we will have maps available at staging for nearby bathrooms, restaurants, and gas stations.

The reasons for the "one location" flagline is necessary. Of the 8-9 bus routes going daily (and possibly several times a day), there are scheduled stops, but not all stops may happen on any given route - if there is no soldier getting off - the bus won't stop. Trying to establish flaglines at each stop is not realistic, plus we can't publish the information. Again, these Welcome Homes will be and feel much different for us than in the past.

The good news is that we will be able to welcome them all home in the way we are used to when the units all have their official unit/community Welcome Homes - somewhere between 30-90 days after their return.

Welcome Home and Thank You to our returning Red Bulls, and to their families who held down the fort!

Thank you for your support in giving our Military the honor, dignity, and respect they deserve

Karla Richardson
Minnesota Patriot Guard State Captain