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Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 829th Engineer Company conduct a survey for a construction project in Afghanistan in May 2020. Approximately 150 Soldiers from the 829th Engineer Company are safely back on American soil following a deployment across the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Submitted photo

Approximately 150 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers returned safely to U.S. soil over Labor Day weekend after a nearly year-long mobilization that spanned the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The Spooner and Ashland, Wisconsin-based 829th Engineer Company returned to Fort Bliss, Texas, where they will spend several weeks completing demobilization requirements before returning home to Wisconsin.

The unit mobilized in October 2019 and began a construction mission in support of an engineer battalion from the Indiana National Guard.

Once they arrived in theater, the unit’s Soldiers took on assignments across 21 bases ranging from Afghanistan and Iraq, to Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait where they were either improving facilities or completing construction projects.

The 829th returns amidst a historic period for the Wisconsin National Guard. In addition to the 829th, hundreds of Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers have returned in recent months from deployments to Afghanistan and Ukraine. The 400 Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry returned from a mobilization to Afghanistan in waves over the spring and summer, while the 32nd “Red Arrow” Infantry Brigade Combat Team Headquarters and roughly 160 Soldiers returned from a deployment to Ukraine in August after serving as the headquarters element for training advisors to the Ukrainian military.

The 924th Engineer Facilities Detachment remains deployed to Kuwait, and the 1967th Contracting Team continues its deployment in the Horn of Africa.

Meanwhile, thousands of Wisconsin National Guard troops have supported civil authorities amidst civil unrest over the course of the summer in Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, Kenosha, and Green Bay. More than 1,200 Wisconsin National Guard troops supported civil authorities in efforts to preserve public safety over the past two weeks, and hundreds more assisted in two other instances of civil unrest earlier this summer.

More than 1,400 were mobilized at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic response in Wisconsin performing a variety of roles in support of the state, and when COVID-19 resulted in a mass shortage of volunteers to staff polling places statewide, thousands of Wisconsin National Guard members answered the call to serve as poll workers supporting the Wisconsin Elections Commission during elections in April, May, and August across the state.