LITTLE FALLS -- Minnesota National Guard members deploying to the Horn of Africa will be given an official sendoff Friday at Camp Ripley.

Due to COVID-19, the ceremony will be different for the nearly 700 soldiers and airmen from the Mankato-based 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry Regiment.

Because the guard members have been quarantined together at Camp Ripley since the first week of June, their families and friends will not be able to attend the ceremony in-person.

A virtual ceremony will be held instead, from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., and will include a steak meal cook-out for the troops put on by the Serving Our Troops organization.

Following the event, the guard members will prepare to travel to Fort Bliss, Texas for additional training before their deployment. The deployment event is being live-streamed at www.ServingOurTroops.com.

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