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Ceremony today to mark National Guard unit's return to Poplar Bluff
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- The nearly 80 soldiers of the Missouri Army National Guard's 205th Military Police Battalion will arrive in Poplar Bluff today after spending nearly a year in Afghanistan where they mentored Afghan police officers.
Activated for federal duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in early 2010, the soldiers are returning to the Black River Coliseum, where a ceremony will be held in their honor at 10 a.m.
Featured speakers for the ceremony will include National Guard personnel, such as Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, the guard's adjutant general, as well as county and state elected officials.
The program also will include a brief history of the unit, as well as its accomplishments in Afghanistan, and the soldiers' presentation of the American and Missouri flags, which were flown by the unit in Afghanistan.
While in country, the soldiers' mission was to support the Afghanistan Border Police and the Afghanistan National Police as part of a Police Mentoring Command and Control program in Kabul and Jalalabad, according to Michelle Queiser, the unit's public affairs representative.
The soldiers, Queiser said, aided, mentored and assisted the Afghan police in taking responsibility of policing functions.
The goal, she said, was to help the Afghan police support their own country.
The battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Aaron Stover of Jefferson City, Mo., and Command Sgt. Maj. Jay Marsden of Dardeene Prairie, Mo., fell under the command and control of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, with support from the Division Tactical Action Command.
As family and friends await the unit's arrival Wednesday morning, a photo slide show featuring the soldiers and their work in Afghanistan will be shown, Queiser said.
The soldiers, she said, will make their arrival at the coliseum accompanied by a police escort from the Butler County line and after completing demobilization procedures at Fort McCoy, Wis.
The demobilization process is something every unit does and is done to make sure soldiers are still the "same healthy persons they were when they left," Queiser said.
The soldiers and unit also turned in equipment before heading back to Missouri, she said.
Black River Coliseum, Poplar Bluff, MO