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250 'Red Bulls' arriving home Sunday

The first group of Minnesota National Guard "Red Bull" soldiers is expected home Sunday.

The 250 troops will fly into Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport around 5 p.m. and will travel by bus to armories in Stillwater, Rosemount and Inver Grove Heights. Troops are expected to arrive at the armories around 6 p.m, the Guard said.

Twenty-three troops are headed back to Stillwater, 160 to Rosemount and 67 to Inver Grove Heights.

More than 1,000 Red Bulls were deployed to Iraq. They are returning home in four groups, each about a week apart. The first wave of soldiers arrived in Fort Lewis, Washington earlier this week where they spent a few days debriefing before flying back to their Guard armories in Minnesota Sunday.

No formal ceremony is planned for Sunday. That will take place when all troops are home, Guard Capt. John Hobot said.

"It's get off at the armory, hug their families and go home," he said of Sunday.

Members of the Washington County and Woodbury Yellow Ribbon military family support groups are encouraging local residents to show up at the armories to welcome the troops.

"It really is about (having) a presence," said Sen. Kathy Saltzman of Woodbury, who is involved in the Yellow Ribbon program.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty is scheduled to welcome the troops at the airport.

The 34th Infantry Division soldiers provided command and control of military forces in southern Iraq since May 2009.

The troops will begin a civilian reintegration program about a month after they return.

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