I am very proud of my battalion, 2-135 Infantry. We remain the last survivors of the 135th Infantry Regiment, a storied unit which began as the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Regiment, and reorganized after the Civil War as the 135th. We began over 150 years ago as farmers, blacksmiths, cobblers, tailors, trappers, and railroad workers. Even Railroad tycoon James J. Hill served in the ranks of our predecessor, the old Pioneer Guard before it was mustered for Civil War service. They wouldn't let him class up on account of his wooden eye (probably a good thing, seeing as his successful enlistment would likely have put him in the 83% casualty count of the 1st Minnesota when they saved the field at Gettysburg, and Minnesota would have lost out on much of its commercial development, seeded by Hill's railroad, in its subsequent 100 years). Today we are auto mechanics, welders, carpenters, copier technicians, IT professionals, teachers, and sheet metal workers. We are regular folk who like to watch sports and drink beer. If you hang around us you'll hear more talk about trucks and tattoos than you will about taxes and treaties. As a group, we care more about prime rib than we do about the Prime Rate. As infantrymen, we are an odd, arrogant bunch, more comfortable with a combat mission than one involving observation and treaty compliance. Nonetheless, we are duty-bound, so here we go, off to do our rotation to enforce the terms of a treaty signed by Israel and Egypt in 1979, when I, and the parents of most of us, were in kindergarten.
This treaty was made possible by the 1978 Camp David Peace Accords between Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel, and President Anwar El Sadat of Egypt, who joined President Jimmy Carter at Camp David, Maryland, home of the famous Presidential retreat, to bury a 30 year old (some say a 3000 year old) hatchet. The deal called for the Sinai, Egyptian territory captured by Israel after it was attacked by 5 nations, on 3 fronts, in the 1967 Six Day War, to be returned to Egypt. The treaty called for Israel to retreat from the Sinai, and for Egypt not to reoccupy but to leave it demilitarized. Of course, one couldn't just pull up stakes and leave one of the heaviestly contested tracts of land in the world unprotected, so the treaty also called for the occupation of the Sinai by Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), whose mission is to monitor both sides, ensuring treaty compliance. That's where we come in. This July, our number is up and 2-135 will send our count, first to Ft. Bliss, TX, for post mobilization conditioning, then will deploy to the Sinai for our tour of duty, to live up to a 37-year-old promise to the world.
Before you ask how in the world my wife allowed me deploy to Egypt when she is having a baby, you should know I am not going. The MFO mission calls for around 400 personnel, and our battalion has quite a bit more than that. Unlike other companies in the battalion, my company uses heavy weapons not permitted under the terms of the historic 1979 peace treaty, so I'll remain "in the rear with the gear." But much of my heart will be with our forward element. As they leave their lives and their families, I wish them all the success they've earned from their training, and that the only thing which precedes their duty to mission is loyalty to their brothers in arms.