- Associated Press - Monday, August 10, 2020

STILLWATER, Minn. (AP) - One of the first Minnesota National Guard units to respond to unrest following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis is headed out on a new mission.

The 34th Military Police Company, based in Stillwater, is deploying on a yearlong mission to provide security at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. A send-off ceremony Sunday at the Stillwater armory was scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Company commander Capt. Troy Davidson said while the unit has had a year to prepare for the Guantanamo Bay deployment, it had just hours to respond to the unrest over Floyd’s death. The unit went right back to training for Guantanamo Bay after it served in the Twin Cities.

The back-to-back deployments were emotional for many of the families at Sunday’s event, the Star Tribune reported.

“Knowing for a year that he’s leaving, that’s hard,” Kristy Stauffer said of the deployment of her husband, Staff Sgt. Fred Stauffer. “But I was more scared for him during the state active duty than I was for his last deployment because of the constant news coverage and it was at home. There’s something to be said about feeling safe at home, and while it wasn’t in Cottage Grove, it was still very close to home.”

More than 7,000 soldiers across the state were deployed to the Twin Cities after Floyd, a handcuffed Black man, died May 25 after he was restrained by police. A white officer held his knee to the neck of Floyd, who begged for air until he became motionless.

Gov. Tim Walz described the guard’s deployment to deal with the protests and violence that followed Floyd’s death the first full mobilization of the Guard since World War II and the largest deployment in state history.

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