National Guard members return home
By Clay Schuldt
Special to The Argus
After nearly a year of deployment in Kuwait, four local Minnesota Army National Guard members returned home this spring.
Allen Buxengard, Kevin Pohlman, Corey Bell and Nathan Klinski are all members of Charlie Company 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry, and were stationed in northern Kuwait for nearly a year.
After being home for two months Buxengard, Pohlman and Bell shared some of their experiences.
The men each had their own reasons and motivations for joining the Guard. Both Bell and Pohlman joined up in 2007.
“I always wanted to join the Army,” Bell said.
Pohlman said his interest in joining stemmed from his uncle Roger Pohlman, who served in the military. For Pohlman, the Guard represented a chance help others.
“I am doing a duty,” he said. “I don’t always know the people I am helping, but it gives me pride to know I was able to help.”
For Buxengard, Kuwait was his third deployment since joining the Guard back in March of 1995. He had previously been deployed to Saudi Arabia in 2001 and Afghanistan in 2004-2005.
Buxengard’s original motivation for joining was to receive money for college.
“It’s a good organization,” he said. “It gives an individual a lot of opportunity.”
Buxengard used the money he received from the National Guard to attend auto repair classes.
Charlie Company was stationed in northern Kuwait close to the Iraq border.
“When we first got off the plane it was close to 125, 130 degrees,” said Bell, who compared the warm, dry weather to a blow dryer constantly blowing in your face.
“The northern part of Kuwait pretty is much empty desert,” Bell explained. “When you go further south that’s when you get closer to Kuwait City – that’s a more urban area. Once you get away from the city it is just empty desert with camel herders and farmers.”
The soldiers of Charlie Company served as a reaction force in Kuwait and could enter into Iraq if needed. However, the soldiers would respond to anyone who required assistance in the area.
Pohlman admitted that since they were stationed on an American base it was not too different from being on base at home.
“It was difficult being away from home,” Pohlman said, who left behind a large family, including his mother and father, five siblings and a fiancee. “Thankfully there were so many new electronic media so we could stay in contact.”
The Guardsmen returned to the United States on April 23 but were held up in Mississippi at Camp Shelby for a week of reintegration. The reintegration process is a seven to 10-day process in which returning soldiers are debriefed and given the chance to readjust to life at home.
For some it can be difficult to be back in the United States but not able to go home. Bell explained that for Charlie Company the process took a little longer than planned because too many soldiers were sent to the same base, causing the process to be delayed a few days.
All three Guardsmen praised the program as it is a way to inform returning troops about the services available to them.
“If a problem does come, they let you know where you can get help,” Buxengard said.
Upon returning from deployment Guardsmen are granted up to 90 days of leave to help with reintegration.
During his leave, Bell plans to vacation in Germany with his fiance, Amber. Pohlman is helping his father out on his dairy farm and intends to marry his fiance in October. In his spare time Buxengard works repairing vehicles and spends time with his wife, Emily, and their two kids, Baily and Celia.
In July the men will return to the Guard, which will include debriefing and meetings to make sure reintegration process is working. By September they’ll be back to regular training. Buxengard already has returned to duty and will be soon joined by his fellow Guardsmen.