Neal Loidolt '88
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Brig. Gen. Neal Loidolt honored as commander of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division.
The 30-year military journey of Brig. Gen. Neal Loidolt ’88 has led him to several honors. His latest is being assigned commander of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division.
“It’s an inspiring opportunity that I could have never dreamed of when I was a Reserve Officer Training Corps. (ROTC) cadet at St. Cloud State University,” Loidolt said.
In 2009-10, Loidolt was assigned to chief of staff for the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, operating as the command and control headquarters for all forces in the southern nine provinces of Iraq. Headquartered in Basra, the division commanded, at its peak, more than 16,000 services members from all branches of the military and components of the individual services.
“While division command is a distinct honor for any general officer, it is all the more special for me because I was the chief of staff of this division as well as having deployed with it and with the Red Bull soldiers in combat,” Loidolt said. “I am both honored and humbled by this assignment.”
The Rosemount-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division is one of the more storied National Guard units in the country. The division accounted for the most consecutive days in combat of any division during World War II. A brigade of the Red Bulls also holds the record for the most consecutive days in combat for any brigade during a deployment in Iraq.
In 2006, Loidolt was assigned to deputy director of operations for the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, during a mission in Iraq. There, he lead more than 100 soldiers, airmen, government civilians and contractors charged with overseeing the rebuilding of oil, electricity and water infrastructure through the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund (IRRF). The $18 billion fund was authorized by the U.S. Congress to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure.
Loidolt began his military career in 1984 when he enlisted in the Minnesota Army National Guard as an ammunition specialist. After returning from Army Basic Training in the spring of 1985, Loidolt immediately enrolled in the ROTC program.
“The ROTC program at St. Cloud State was the right training for me at the right time in my life.”
He received his commission through St. Cloud State’s ROTC program in 1987.
“The program provided the perfect amount of structure, rigor and personal challenge. ROTC made me a better student and, by implication, a better person,” Loidolt said. “Suddenly the path became clear and the academic challenges at St. Cloud State and Hamline Law were mere hurdles that the Army trained me to overcome with dedication, determination and passion. I would not be where I am today without ROTC.”
In the last 10 years, more than 1,200 St. Cloud State students and alumni have been members of the Minnesota National Guard.