After months of being deployed in Kuwait, members of Minnesota’s “Red Bulls”, the 1-125 Field Artillery of the Minnesota National Guard, are looking forward to heading home soon. The thoughts of going home buoyed the troops as they rang in the new year from Camp Patriot, Kuwait.
1st Sgt. James Benson and his fellow soldiers symbolically burned their Christmas trees as midnight approached.
“Another new year and we’re really looking forward. We’re hitting that benchmark to start looking at heading on back home and getting all that stuff. So (burning the) Christmas trees kind of signify moving on and moving forward”.
Even though the Iraq war officially ended in December, about 2,600 Minnesota National Guard troops remain on duty in the region until May 2012.
The Red Bulls are supply specialists at Contingency Operating Base Basra, Iraq, and have been working under the cover of night to undo everything they have accomplished in the past year.
After bringing literally tons of equipment to Iraq from Minnesota and Fort Lewis, Washington, they now have to work overtime to send it all back.
Over the course of the deployment, more than 17 ships and 25 strategic air missions were required to transport the 27,000 Soldiers and 32,000 tons of equipment to and from Iraq.
Home has been on their mind. One soldier displayed a birthday gift he had received—a cake sealed in a jar with “happy birthday” written on the lid. “It’s good for six months and it tastes very yummy.”