A Minnesota Army National Guard Unit, Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion 194th Field Artillery, will soon be deploying from Alexandria and the public is invited to a send-off.

The community is welcome to wave their goodbyes to the soldiers as their buses head out of town on Monday, Aug. 3, around 9:30 a.m. People are asked to line the streets of Broadway, from 5th Avenue out to Interstate 94, as the soldiers are escorted out of town by law enforcement and the Alexandria Fire Department.

An official ceremony, which will include elected officials, is being held to inspire, set expectations and give the 194th Field Artillery unit a proper send-off, according to Rich Reimers, Sgt. 1st Class, Minnesota National Guard. Due to COVID-19, however, the ceremony is not open to the public, but can be viewed virtually.

The deployment ceremony will be available to watch virtually via the Minnesota National Guard’s Facebook page, facebook.com/MinnesotaNationalGuard. It will take place Sunday, Aug. 2, at 11:30 a.m.

The unit is made up of about 100 soldiers not only from Alexandria and Carlos within Douglas County, but 56 other cities around the state, as well as cities in North Dakota and Wisconsin. About 6% are women and the youngest soldier is 19, while the oldest is 47.

The unit will be deploying for about a one-year stint in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel to the U.S. Central Command area, which is made up of 20 nations in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, which includes but is not limited to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.