KUWAIT — More than 650 citizen-soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Red Bull Infantry Division will soon depart for home from the Middle East after a 10-month deployment. The Minnesota unit assumed command in mid-November 2018 and is responsible for leading U.S. Central Command’s Task Force Spartan, which increases military readiness capabilities in order to maintain regional stability and partnerships.
Among the 650 Red Bulls are six citizen-soldiers from the White Bear Lake area who agreed to join in a picture and share a bit about themselves as they prepare to return home:
Specialist Carley Brake was raised and currently lives in Hugo. Growing up, she played traveling soccer with city of White Bear team for 12 years. She graduated from White Bear Lake South Campus in 2016. This is Brake’s first deployment to the Middle East and also the first time she has left the country. Brake looks forward to spending time with family and friends, as well as having breakfast at Key's Café and enjoying Cup and Cone.
Specialist Emma Pearson is originally from Vadnais Heights and will be moving to White Bear Lake following her return home. This is Pearson’s first overseas deployment to the Middle East, and on this tour she served as a human resource specialist for both Bravo Company and Fox Company. Emma looks forward to sleep in her own bed, being able to not have to wear shoes in the shower, and just being home with family.
Sgt. Aaron Bick is originally from Maplewood and moved to Hugo in 2017. This is Aaron's first overseas deployment to the Middle East, and on this tour he served in Charlie Company working in the field of information technology. Aaron is excited to return home and enjoy spending time with family before returning to work.
Warrant Officer Cory Syfko moved to White Bear Lake 10 years ago shortly after his first deployment to the Middle East. He currently serves in the 34th ID as an information systems tech in Bravo Company. Syfko is looking forward to date nights with his wife in downtown White Bear Lake and losing both golf balls in the water and fish off the hook.
Sgt. Blake Griebenow graduated from Mahtomedi in 2010 and currently lives in White Bear Township. This is Griebenow’s second overseas deployment to the Middle East, and on this tour he served in Alpha Company as the Task Force Spartan Battle Non-commissioned Officer.
Cpt. Justin Bradshaw is originally from Stillwater and moved to White Bear Township nine years ago when he and his wife, Elizabeth, married. This is Bradshaw's second overseas deployment to the Middle East. On this tour he served as commander of Bravo Company, comprised of over 200 soldiers. Bradshaw looks forward to a family vacation, fishing, and spending quality time with his 4-year-old daughter, Piper.
The Red Bull Division leads several brigades, including air defense artillery, field artillery, engineers, armor and aviation. Spread out in nearly 20 countries, the brigades and division amass to more than 9,000 service members who provide capabilities such as aviation, logistics, force protection and information management.