St. Cloud aviators deploy to Afghanistan


July 8, 2016 (ST. CLOUD) — Families, friends and the St. Cloud community gathered to send off 20 Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard’s B Company, 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion, July 7, 2016, as they prepare to deploy to Afghanistan.


“You have demonstrated you’re trained and ready to execute the most demanding and complex aviation missions and all other required training prior to mobilization,” said Col. Shawn Manke, commander of the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade. “Not only are you proficient in your wartime tasks, you are citizen-Soldiers who have additional skillsets from your civilian careers that the Army simply does not have. You’re ready for anything that comes your way and I have the utmost confidence that whatever situation the team is faced with, you will succeed.”


The Soldiers recently completed training at Camp Ripley, Minn., and will now move to Fort Hood, Texas, for additional training prior to departing for Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and Resolute Support.

“To the Soldiers deploying with Bravo Company, know that your hard work and dedication has not gone unnoticed,” said Capt. Nolan Kohlrusch, company commander. “I have witnessed with sheer amazement your professionalism, your ethic, your dedication and your sacrifice. Your unwavering commitment has made this unit truly great.”


The unit has deployed twice before – in 2006 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and in 2011 in support of Operation New Dawn. Of the 20 Soldiers, 16 have deployed previously and nine of them have deployed two or more times before.


“These 20 Soldiers are the embodiment of a team,” said Kohlrusch. “We hold each other up when times are uncertain; we pick each other up when we are down; we always stay together.”


The company provides support for combat and combat service operations, air assault and the aerial movement of troops, equipment and supplies.


“As individuals we are great in our own rights, but as a team we are an undeniable combat multiplier on the battlefield and will provide our brothers and sisters in arms aerial support like they’ve never felt before,” said Kohlrusch. “We will provide the Afghanistan and coalition forces vital support to ensure their success and will be able to aid a nation in finding stability.”


Kohlrusch spoke to the family members present and reiterated that the safety and wellbeing of his Soldiers was his top priority. He also praised the families as their most important support channel and thanked them for their continued support.


“I’d ask you to find pride in knowing that your Soldier is fighting for liberty, freedom and our national security,” said Kohlrusch. “They are embarking on a year-long journey that will take them halfway around the world so that your freedom and safety will never, ever be in question. We do this to ensure our children, our childrens’ children and generations to come have the same freedom we now have and even greater opportunity and prosperity in the future.”


by Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs