Deploying Minnesota Guardsmen to be honored with send-off ceremony at Camp Ripley

Serving Our Troops to host virtual deployment ceremony and cook out for National Guard and families

Contributed / Metro Newspaper Service

CAMP RIPLEY — Nearly 700 soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard’s Mankato-based 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry will be honored Friday, June 19, at Camp Ripley, prior to deployment to the Horn of Africa.

The soldiers have been quarantined at Camp Ripley since the first week of June, and will soon depart for Fort Bliss, Texas, for additional training before traveling to Africa. As part of the requirements of the soldiers’ quarantine, families will be unable to attend the departure ceremony in person.

With COVID-19 restricting traditional military departure ceremonies and family send-offs, the St. Paul-based civic group Serving Our Troops is hosting a special socially-distanced ceremony and a simultaneous statewide virtual steak meal cookout for soldiers and their families.

Over the last 16 years, Serving Our Troops has cooked more than 100,000 steaks for service members and their families during projects in Kosovo, Iraq, Kuwait, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and several locations in Minnesota. All the meals are provided free of charge through the generosity of Minnesota businesses and individual donors.

From 4-6 p.m. Friday, the departure ceremony for the 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry Regiment will be followed by an on-site meal and virtual event with families at Camp Ripley.

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