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Updated: 10/21/2011 10:24 PM
Created: 10/21/2011 7:37 PM | Print |  Email
By: Mark Albert

MN Red Bulls to Stay Past Year-End Iraq Withdrawal 

The largest deployment of Minnesota National Guard soldiers since World War II will stay in Kuwait until Spring as planned, despite Pres. Barack Obama's announcement Friday declaring an end to the Iraq war and the withdrawal of all American troops by the end of the year.

The president spoke after the U.S. and Iraqi governments failed to negotiate a plan that would have kept perhaps 3,000 to 5,000 American troops in Iraq past a Dec. 31 deadline that had been agreed to by both countries back in 2008.

"I'm fine with it, staying over there until we need to come home," said 1st Lt. Shawn Nelson, a Minnesota National Guardsman, during an interview Friday at his mother's Minneapolis home.

Nelson, 28, assigned to base security at Camp Patriot, Kuwait, is in the Twin Cities on a two-week leave in the middle of his year-long tour of duty.

"We knew going over there what our time frame was," Nelson said, "and so we mentally prepared for that. So that's our expectation, that's where we're planning on being. We didn't have any thoughts of really coming home early."

Click above to watch our story, including an interview with Nelson's mother, and a look at the Minnesota Red Bulls who died in the Iraq war.

Click here for more on the president's Oct. 21, 2011 withdrawal announcement.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reporter Mark Albert and photojournalist Chris Hansen embedded for most of September with the Minnesota National Guard in Iraq and Kuwait. The 2,700 soldiers from hundreds of Minnesota communities - now the largest deployment of the Guard since World War II - are in charge of providing security convoys to 46,000 withdrawing American troops and to protect bases in Kuwait where they will stage before the trip home.

Click here to watch our series: MN Guard Leading the Way Home.