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TAG Line December 23, 2020

Graves at the N.D. Veterans Cemetery south of Mandan, N.D. were adorned during the Wreaths Across America (WAA) event on Dec. 19, 2020. This annual event is organized by the Bismarck Composite Squadon of the N.D. Civil Air Patrol. (National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Charles Highland, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs Office)

Holiday Message from the Adjutant General

“Season’s Greetings to Our Entire N.D. National Guard Family"

After a very challenging year, now, during this holiday season, is a great time to relax, reflect and celebrate the accomplishments of 2020. Our three divisions – State Radio, Homeland Security, and the National Guard – are united in our efforts to serve the people of North Dakota. We have accomplished a lot in the midst of the pandemic and looking back it is clear that you all have made a difference in the lives of our fellow North Dakotans. The work you have done has had a dramatic and positive effect on the people we all serve. As stated in the #BecauseWeCare campaign, our team fights as one, no one stands alone. I ask each one of you to reach out to those around you, check in, and let them know you care. We owe it to one-another and to the health of this organization, to make sure all team-members receive the care they have earned and deserve. To be there for the citizens we serve, we must first be there for each other.

On behalf of Governor Burgum and all agency leadership, my wife Becky and I truly hope you have a wonderful holiday season. We look forward to the prospect of a happy and healthy 2021. It is truly an honor to be part of this organization and to serve alongside all of you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann

Holiday Music Courtesy of the 188th Army Band

Holiday Celebration at the N.D. Veterans Home

For more than 20 years, members of the N.D. National Guard collect and deliver holiday gifts and cheer to the residents of the N.D. Veterans Home in Lisbon, N.D. This program initiated by the members of the N.D. Air National Guard in the early 1990s, expanded to include the N.D. Army National Guard in the mid-90s, and alternates primary responsibly every year. (Air National Guard story and photos by Chief Master Sgt. Dave Lipp, 119th Wing Public Affairs Office)

This year, it was the Happy Hooligans' turn to support this great tradition. In addition to collecting and handing out presents to residents in person, Guard members visit with the residents, play cards, share a meal and often sing holiday songs. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the risk this virus poses, visitors were not allowed to enter the facility. The Hooligans adjusted to the restriction by conducting this year's operation was in three phases:

Phase I, Gift Collection and Preparation; Phase II - Delivery; and Phase III - Enjoyment.

The gift bags prepared by the Hooligans included locally-made Veteran t-shirts with each resident’s respective branch of service, a package of popular N.D.-produced pretzels, locally-made potato chips dipped in chocolate, locally-made lefsa and a festive, hand-crafted face covering. The items were donated by 119th Wing Airmen and civilian employees.

Phase I - Gift Collection and Preparation

From left to right Ms. Joann Splonskowski, Tech. Sgt. Keifer Hinrichs, Master Sgt. Stacey Lockwood and Master Sgt. Allison Magnus assemble gift bags for N.D. Veterans Home residents at the N.D. Air National guard Base, Fargo, N.D. on Dec. 16, 2020.

Happy Hooligan 1st Lt. Jeremiah Colbert, 119th Wing Public Affairs officer, helps assemble gift bags for Lisbon Veterans Home residents at the N.D. Air National guard Base on Dec. 16, 2020.

Tech. Sgt. Keifer Hinrichs, 119th Operations Group, right, and Master Sgt. Stacey Lockwood, 119th Wing finance office, assemble gift bags for Lisbon Veterans Home residents at the N.D. Air National guard Base in Fargo on Dec. 16, 2020.

Master Sgt. Stacey Lockwood, 119th Wing finance office, left, and Ms. Joann Splonskowski assemble gift bags for Lisbon Veterans Home residents at the N.D. Air National guard Base on Dec. 16, 2020.

Phase II - Delivery

The 119th Wing Public Affairs officer, 1st Lt. Jeremiah Colbert led a small group of Hooligans to the N.D. Veterans Home in Lisbon, N.D. on Dec. 17, 2020. The group was comprised of recruiting and retention members Senior Master Sgt. Tina Sly and Tech. Sgt. Michael Bullen, along with public affairs members Chief Master Sgt. David Lipp and Master Sgt. Michael Knodle. Their mission was to deliver the gift packages to the home. Veterans home staff members Susie Schlecht, marketing director; Megan Saunders, activity director; and Courtney Jacobson, activity coordinator, accepted the packages on behalf of the residents.

“It was heartwarming to see the reactions of the staff members when we handed off the gift bags, and how excited they were to give these gifts to the residents,” said Colbert. “This is one of the most impactful events our Guard participates in each year, and I’m grateful we could bring a bit of cheer to the venerable residents of the N.D. Veterans Home.”

From left to right 119th Wing members 1st Lt. Jeremiah Colbert, Tech. Sgt. Michael Bullen and Senior Master Sgt. Tina Sly deliver holiday packages to the N.D. Veterans Home on Dec. 17, 2020.

From right to left 119th Wing members Senior Master Sgt. Tina Sly, 1st Lt. Jeremiah Colbert and Tech. Sgt. Michael Bullen deliver holiday gift packages to N.D. Veterans Home on Dec. 17, 2020. Receiving the packages are staff members Courtney Jacobson, left, veterans home activities coordinator, and Megan Saunders, veterans home activities director.

From left to right 119th Wing members 1st Lt. Jeremiah Colbert, Tech. Sgt. Michael Bullen and Senior Master Sgt. Tina Sly deliver holiday packages to the N.D. Veterans Home in Lisbon, N.D.
From left to right, Tech. Sgt. Michael Bullen, Senior Master Sgt. Tina Sly and 1st Lt. Jeremiah Colbert deliver holiday packages to the Lisbon Veterans Home as Megan Saunders, Veterans home activities director, and Courtney Jacobson, Veterans home activities coordinator, meet them outside the facility on Dec. 17, 2020.

Phase III - Enjoyment

“I know our residents look forward to this event every year," said Megan Saunders, activity director for the N.D. Veterans Home. "This is the first time that I have experienced this, and it is definitely different than what I have seen in pictures and the stories that the residents have shared. They are always excited to see what the National Guard brings them. I look forward to next year when we can, hopefully, do it the old-fashioned way - Guardsmen presenting the gifts.” (Photos by Susie Schlecht, Marketing Coordinator, N.D. Veterans Home)

Veteran Dean Fenster had a great big smile on his face when he read his t-shirt.

"Semper Fi!"

U.S. Air Force Veteran Elmer Cassat poses with his service t-shirt. Elmer also served as an U.S. Army Ranger during the Korean War.

"Rangers lead the way!"

Helen Praska is married to retired N.D. Guard Soldier Al Praska.

"Helen's a Proud Army Wife!"

Walter Fadness, U.S. Air Force Veteran from Valley City, N.D., appreciates his new t-shirt.

"Aim High!"

Holiday Greetings from N.D. Army Guard Aviators Serving in the National Capital Region

Giving Back to Deployed Families

Revive Christian Church of Bismarck filled 50 Christmas gift bags full of goodies and thank you cards for families and children of the Soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 285th Aviation Regiment who are serving in the National Capital Region for a nine-month tour. Church member Dawna Hagerott said, that the church dedicates one Sunday a month to do an outreach project for the community. Dawna is a military Mom with a son currently serving in the Guard and says families serve too.

Left; The Dwyers and Kerr family pictured with members of the Revive Christian Church and Jill Yri, of the 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment Family Readiness Group at Raymond J. Bohn armory in Bismarck, N.D. on Dec. 14, 2020. Members of Wollschlager family stop by the Family Readiness Office to get their Christmas gift bag at Bohn Armory on Dec 14.

Wreaths Across America

Every year since 2006, the Bismarck Composite Squadron of the N.D. Civil Air Patrol (CAP) facilitates the Wreaths Across America (WAA) event at the N.D. Veterans Cemetery, located six miles south of Mandan, N.D. This annual holiday endeavor is one of more than 2,100 wreath­-laying ceremonies across the United States, at sea and abroad.. The mission of WAA is to remember our fallen U.S. Veterans, honor those who served or who currently serve in our Armed Forces, and teach our children the value of freedom. (Photos and story by Sgt. 1st Class Charles Highland, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs Office)

This year's event on Dec. 19, 2020 was impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. Instead of volunteers attending a memorial ceremony in the chapel before placing wreaths, this formal portion of the event was instead recorded and available online. Volunteers went right to work while observing recommended CDC and state health department procedures for stopping the spread of the virus. An estimated 1,700 people placed wreaths on each of the more 7,200 graves at the cemetery by 11:30. This marked the seventh straight year that every headstone was decorated.

Graves at the N.D. Veterans Cemetery, south of Mandan, N.D. on Dec.19, 2020 are decorated with wreaths as part of the Wreaths Across America program facilitated by the Bismarck Composite Squadron of the N.D. Civil Air Patrol.

A wreath adorns the 164th Infantry Regiment monument at the N.D. Veterans Cemetery in Mandan on Dec.19, 2020. The wreath was placed as part of the Wreaths Across America program hosted by the Bismarck Composite Squadron of the N.D. Civil Air Patrol.

All of the more than 7,200 graves at the N.D. Veterans Cemetery were decorated with wreaths during the Wreaths Across America (WAA) event on Dec. 19, 2020. This annual event is organized by the Bismarck Composite Squadron of the N.D. Civil Air Patrol.

A wreath adorns the North Dakota POW-MIA Memorial at the N.D. Veterans Cemetery on Dec.19, 2020. The wreath was placed as part of the Wreaths Across America program facilitated by the Bismarck Composite Squadron of the N.D. Civil Air Patrol.

Wreaths Across America - Memorial Ceremony

N.D. Guard Assists with Antigen Screening

The N.D. National Guard, in conjunction with the N.D. Department of Emergency Services, hosted free rapid antigen screening tests on Dec. 19, 2020 in Bismarck and Fargo. Both events were open to the public and were intended for asymptomatic visitors. These missions were part of the N.D. National Guard’s continued support to the state and local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Army National Guard story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Brett Miller, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)

Spc. Dillon Fischer, 818th Engineer Company, scans results from the antigen screening using a tablet while Lt. Col. Patrick Flanagan, left, 81st Civil Support Team, and Staff Sgt. Jessica Fetsch, 191st Military Police Company, monitor specimens at the Gateway Mall in Bismarck, N.D. on Dec. 19, 2020.

Spc. Savon Flansburg, left, 816th Military Police Company, and Sgt. Michael Freadhoff, 142nd Engineer Battalion, collect information from an individual participating in rapid antigen screening at Gateway Mall in Bismarck, N.D. on Dec. 19, 2020.
Sgt. 1st Class Zachary Follman, left, and Sgt. Nicole Jochim, both of the 816th Military Police Company, collect information from an individual being screened for COVID-19 at the antigen screening site at Gateway Mall in Bismarck, N.D. on Dec. 19, 2020.

Camp Grafton Training Center Troop Project

Soldiers of the 835th and 897th Engineer Detachments participated in several troop construction projects this year at Camp Grafton Training Center (CGTC) near Devils Lake, ND. The units' Soldiers did renovation work to include electrical and plumbing installation as well as drywall finishing in buildings 3420, 3430 and 5240. (Army National Guard story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Ben Halvorson, operations non-commissioned officer, Camp Grafton Training Center)

Spc. Daniel Werlinger, 835th Engineer Detachment, perfects his taping and mudding skills while finishing a latrine in building 5240 at Camp Grafton Training Center, on Dec. 12, 2020. After drywall is taped, it is mudded and sanded in preparation of painting.

Band Member Assists her Community

Sgt. Taryn Benton, a traditional Soldier with the 188th Army Band, is a fourth-year pharmacy student at N.D. State University (NDSU). Benton, was at Essentia Health in Fargo, N.D. as part of her learning experience when COVID-19 vaccine arrived. She was asked to help set up and participate in the vaccination clinic which was conducted Dec. 16-18, 2020. She was among the first in North Dakota to help administer the new vaccine. Pharmacy students are authorized to administer hypodermic injections under direction of a licensed pharmacist. (Story by Sgt. Taryn Benton, 188th Army Band)

"I thought it was such an awesome experience to be part of history by participating in the first COVID-19 vaccines in the state during this pandemic," said Benton. "During the vaccine appointments, I enjoyed talking with health care workers and saw their excitement as this new vaccine provided a glimmer of hope in this pandemic".

Sgt. Taryn Benton, a traditional Soldier with the 188th Army Band, administers the COVID-19 vaccine at an immunization clinic conducted at Essentia Health in Fargo, N.D. on Dec. 17, 2020.

Photo courtesy of Essentia Health.

Left: Sgt. Taryn Benton, 188th Army Band, center, performs with her clarinet as a member of the Flatland Dixie group at the Fargo Armed Forces Reserve Center on Dec. 7, 2019. (Photo by Spc. Amanda Zakeri, 188th Army Band. Right: Benton, a fourth-year pharmacy student at N.D. State University, holds a hypodermic filled with COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17, 2020.

N.Y. National Guard to Assist NORAD in Tracking Santa

Per holiday tradition, NORAD tracking operations will begin on Dec. 24 at 4 a.m. on the noradsanta.org website. At 6 a.m., children and parents can call for information on Santa Claus at (877) 446-6723. Click for more information.

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ND National Guard Public Affairs Office
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