Family and supporters of 42 soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard's 204th Area Support Medical Company gathered at Century College in White Bear Lake on Saturday to welcome the troops home from a nine-month deployment to Egypt.

The Cottage Grove-based unit provided medical support for the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), which includes more than 1,600 service members from 12 nations. Troops operated in two treatment facilities in the Sinai Peninsula, as well as remote sites providing services such as dental, preventive medicine, veterinary, physical therapy, wellness services and medical logistics, said Army Cpt. Jonathan Vang, company commander.

The unit was involved in treating 14 MFO service members who were attacked by militants at a checkpoint in July.

"Over the nine months, we treated more than 4,400 patients," Vang said. "Saving lives was our greatest reward in the Sinai and I am proud of how the unit responded to the mass casualty event in July. This was attributed to our prepared trauma teams and professionalism."

The company has previously been deployed on missions to Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers hail from 31 Minnesota communities, as well as Wisconsin and Illinois. Roughly 40 percent of the group are female medics. Last September during the unit's going-away celebration at Park High School in Cottage Grove, U.S. Sen. Al Franken thanked the troops for their service. "Not just Minnesota, but the entire nation can be proud that we have the Minnesota National Guard," Franken said. "You are second to none and make our state proud."

On Tuesday, the Minnesota State Fair will recognize veterans and provide an educational opportunity for all fairgoers to learn about Minnesota's military community during its fifth annual Military Appreciation Day.

More than 1,000 veterans are expected to attend the recognition of the Commander's Task Force at 9:45 a.m. at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell, which will include remarks by Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and a historic flyover presented by Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Charity.

Staff report