Monticello’s 257th Military Police Company returns April 4

Monticello’s 257th Military Police Company is scheduled to arrive home Thursday, April 4.

The exact date of the unit’s homecoming status was confirmed Thursday afternoon by Maj. Kristen Auge, Minnesota National Guard deputy director of public affairs.

Welcome home organizers are asking the public to line the unit’s anticipated point of entry and travel route through town to the Monticello Community Center. The 257th is expected to arrive in Monticello via the second Interstate 94 exit and travel down Seventh Street.

Suggested parking areas are Target, Home Depot, St. Henry’s, The Station, and Cub Foods.

Organizers are asking the public to line the welcome home route before 2 p.m. and proudly display yellow ribbons, U.S. flags and banner posters to honor unit members, who will meet privately with their families at the Monticello Community Center.

The public is being asked to respect the soldiers and their families privacy and keep the Monticello Community Center area reserved for the soldiers’ families only.

The unit’s status within the continental U.S. was confirmed Monday afternoon by Auge.

The 257th arrived at Fort Bliss, Texas, last Saturday. Typically, the demobilization process takes about 10 days, Auge said.

The 257th Military Police Company partnered with the Afghan National Army to support operations in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom during its recent overseas deployment. Capt. Troy Hyland, who commands the company, spoke with the Monticello Times from Fort Bliss Monday afternoon.

“It was a long flight,” Hyland said. “We arrived in the late evening. Our demobilization is really a reverse process when it comes to the administrative piece of it. There’s no back-end training,  but we have to make sure all of the paperwork gets done and all medical pieces of the record-keeping are cleared out.”

Hyland said his troops are familiar with the process of jumping into a given demobilization line and waiting for the next person to complete a set of documents.“It was 23 hours total traveling time coming home,” Hyland added. “Coming back, we picked up time zones, but it seemed like the clock never did change.”

Hyland said as soon as the 257th landed in the U.S. most of the unit’s soldiers quickly activated their cell phone and began calling their loved ones back home. “They called home right away,” he said. “Some of them were on the phone as soon as we landed and got into the first building. They touched base right away.” According to Hyland, the main focus of the demobilization process at Fort Bliss is decompression.

Unit members have administrative tasks they must complete as well as classes. The Minnesota National Guard sent a number of representatives to Fort Bliss to help the 257th’s soldiers get re-acclimated with numerous tasks.

“They even sent someone from the Minnesota State Patrol,” Hyland said. “We had a trooper come down and talk to us about road safety. We haven’t driven in Minnesota conditions for a year. We’ve been hearing things about the weather conditions back in Minnesota. A big portion of what we are doing right now is letting everybody relax and decompress from the stresses of the last year, and slowly integrate back into the fast-paced life we previously lived back here.”

The 120-plus members of the 257th Military Police Company left Minnesota May 28, 2012, for training prior to their overseas deployment. According to a Minnesota National Guard Operation Enduring Freedom unit overview background sheet, the unit conducted operations in the northeastern part of Afghanistan.

“We’ll come home on a charter flight,” Hyland said. “We are scheduled to come back as a unit, and release from Monticello.”

People back home should be extremely proud of Monticello’s 257th Military Police Company, Hyland said.

“They did a wonderful job. They worked with the Afghan National Army and developed a really good working relationship with them,” he said. “We were the company that others leaned and depended upon. I’m extremely proud of them. Minnesota has every reason to be proud of these guys and gals. Every day my first sergeant and I would just shake our heads in amazement regarding their professionalism. There was a lot of stress placed on developing positive relationships with members of the Afghan National Army.”

More often than not, members of the 257th communicated through interpreters, continuously working to break down many communication and cultural barriers, he said.

“Some of the Afghan National Army members were actually in tears as we were leaving,” Hyland said. He’s served as the 257th’s commander since July 2011.

Hyland also offered thanks and praise to the Monticello community for its ongoing support role while the 257th Military Police Company was deployed. Unit members received more than 1,000 care packages from different community groups. “That really meant a lot for everybody. It really brightened up our days.”

The Monticello Times will continue to update the Monticello’s 257th Military Police Company’s status when more information becomes available.

Contact Managing Editor Tim Hennagir at [email protected]