Nearly 700 Minnesota National Guard soldiers to return home from deployment this week

Nearly 700 Minnesota National Guard soldiers are set to return home from deployment this week, the National Guard said Monday.

The St. Paul-based 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade (ECAB) has been deployed for a year in Iraq in support of Operation Spartan Shield and Operation Inherent Resolve.

The brigade faced significant rocket attacks on March 11 and 14, with dozens of rockets impacting the camp. One coalition service member and two U.S. soldiers were killed in the attack, including Spc. Juan Mendez Covarrubias, a signal support systems specialist assigned to the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, who was serving under the 34th ECAB.

The brigade’s mission was to help Iraqi Security Forces in their fight against Daesh. It also led and completed the closing of Camp Taji and returned it to the Iraa government, a historic move since the 34th ECAB opened the camp in late 2014.

The brigade deployed as a multi-state Army National Guard Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade including soldiers from units in Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, Nevada, New Hampshire, Michigan, Mississippi, and Montana. While deployed, the brigade stood up as an aviation task force comprised of Active Duty, National Guard, and Reserve soldiers along with Coalition forces from Spain and Italy, the National Guard said.