Deploying Minnesota Guardsmen to be honored with sendoff ceremony at Camp Ripley

Serving Our Troops to Host Virtual Deployment Ceremony and Cook Out for National Guard and Families

June 16, 2020 (CAMP RIPLEY, Minn.) — Nearly 700 soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard’s Mankato-based 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry will be honored Friday, June 19, at Camp Ripley, prior to deployment to the Horn of Africa.

The soldiers have been quarantined at Camp Ripley since the first week of June, and will soon depart for Fort Bliss, Texas, for additional training before traveling to Africa. As part of the requirements of the soldiers’ quarantine, families will be unable to attend the departure ceremony in person.

With COVID-19 restricting traditional military departure ceremonies and family send-offs, the St. Paul-based civic group Serving Our Troops is hosting a special socially-distanced ceremony and a simultaneous statewide virtual steak meal cookout for soldiers and their families.

Over the last 16 years, Serving Our Troops has cooked more than 100,000 steaks for service members and their families during projects in Kosovo, Iraq, Kuwait, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and several locations in Minnesota. All the meals are provided free of charge through the generosity of Minnesota businesses and individual donors.

Members of the media are invited to attend the grill pack distribution and departure ceremony:

Wednesday, June 17 from 1:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m., Serving Our Troops volunteers will be distributing the grill packs to family members in the parking lot of Mancini’s Char House, 531 7th Street West, St. Paul, MN 55102. In a social distance setting, meet Serving Our Troops volunteers distributing the meal, family members as they pick up their grill pack and a Minnesota National Guard spokesperson to describe the upcoming military mission. RSVP to Kevin Olson at, 651-212-0573.

Friday, June 19 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Departure Ceremony for the 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry Regiment followed by an on-site meal and virtual event with families at Camp Ripley, 15000 MN Highway 115, Little Falls, MN 56345. In a social distance setting, observe the deployment ceremony, Serving Our Troops steak preparation and dinner service, and speak to deploying soldiers. Television stations are welcome to broadcast live and remote from Camp Ripley. To gain access to the military base, RSVP to Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs at, 651-282-4410.

To coordinate an interview with Serving Our Troops, inquire with Kevin Olson, 651-212-0573.

To coordinate an interview with deploying Minnesota National Guard soldiers or their families, inquire with Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs at, 651-282-4410. 

Video of the departure ceremony and the special meal event will be available via a live stream hosted at