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Colonel: 400 MN National Guard members safe after Kabul airport mission

“The unit, I’m very proud of them,” Col. Timothy Kemp says.

ROSEMOUNT, Minn. — When there's a conflict thousands of miles away, it's hard to imagine the impact here at home.

But scattered across the state of Minnesota, National Guard Col. Timothy Kemp says 400 families watched the news coming out of the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, hoping and praying their beloved member of the military would make it back home.

“The unit, I’m very proud of them,” Kemp said. "I know it was very tough on them during this time period and they were amazingly resilient."

Kemp says those 400 Minnesota National Guard members spent more than two years training for an evacuation mission just like this one.

They were stationed in Kuwait when they got the call on Aug. 17.

"They flew into Afghanistan and then their mission there was to secure a portion and a sector of the airfield,” Kemp said.

Kemp says none of his soldiers were directly impacted by the two explosions at the Kabul airport, but many did encounter some close calls and scary situations.

"The threat was real on the ground there at the airport. They responded to it very well.”

Kemp says all 400 Minnesota soldiers flew out on Monday, and many are now back at their base in Kuwait.

"And they're right on to their next mission. They've got an exercise with Egypt called Bright Star, which they're transitioning to that," Kemp said.

To his knowledge, Kemp says no Minnesota National Guard members were severely injured in the mission, but he acknowledges how lucky they are, because on the same mission several service members were injured and 13 lost their lives.

"It's a horrible loss and my thoughts and prayers go out to all those families and what they're dealing with right now,” Kemp said. "I just want to say an appreciation and pride for everything those soldiers did and then for their families, hopes and prayers and support to them."

The 400 Minnesota National Guard members are part of the 194 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team.

They were deployed to Kuwait back in March and will likely come home sometime this winter.