MOORHEAD — Family, friends and his south Moorhead neighborhood gave Col. Brian Melton a warm welcome this week as he returned home from his fourth deployment with the Minnesota Army National Guard.
Melton, the Clay County attorney, was sent to the country of Jordan in the Middle East in September with the Guard's 34th Red Bull Infantry Division and returned Wednesday, July 17.
“I’m always appreciative of the support I see,” he said. “Each deployment is a little different, but I’ve always had great support from Clay County and people all around Moorhead. It’s great to feel supported.”
His first stop back on U.S. soil? McDonald’s. But on Thursday, he hit up a local favorite with family and friends: Junkyard Brewing Co.
The cuisine in Jordan was interesting, he said, but delicious. Mansaf, a traditional Jordanian dish made with lamb, rice and curdled yogurt, and a cheese dessert called kanafeh were a couple of dishes he enjoyed during deployment.
In Jordan for his first time, he served as chief of staff for Task Force Spartan, the senior military adviser for the country. He worked directly with Jordanian armed forces on training and securing the border.
“All the way around them, the fact that Syria and Iraq and Saudi Arabia all have problems and issues, they're trying to keep a peaceful border and not have that happen within their country,” Melton said. “It’s a very progressive country with Muslims and Christians living together. It’s very accommodating and open, and a country very interested in peace.”
Melton’s other deployments include Bosnia, Iraq and Kuwait.
He said a big difference from his first deployment in 2003 to Bosnia is communication. Back then he had to purchase phone cards and often calls were dropped. Now, he uses the popular smartphone app WhatsApp and video conferencing.
It’s a big difference from when his dad, Norman Melton, served in Vietnam. “They got one letter a month, no calls then,” he said.
He said increased communication thanks to technology makes the time away a bit easier, but nothing beats seeing friends and loved ones in person again.
“Coming home feels really good and being able to see friends and coworkers and get back to it,” he said.
After a family vacation, Melton will return to leading the Clay County Attorney's Office on Aug. 12. During his deployment, Melton’s role was filled by Pam Foss.