Members of Mandan's VFW Post #707 and American Legion Post #40 stand by to fire their weapons in honor of Doug Burtell during his interment services at the N.D. Veterans Cemetery on April 8, 2021. (U.S. National Guard photo by Officer Candidate Michaela C.P. Granger, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs)
Family and friends of Doug Burtell watch thorough the windows of the chapel at the N.D. Veterans Cemetery as members of Mandan's VFW Post #707 and American Legion Post #40 execute a rifle volley in his honor during interment services on April 8, 2021. (U.S. National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brett Miller, N.D. National Guard Visual Information)
From left, 1st Lt. Daniel Geiger and Master Sgt. Travice Tesky, members of the N.D. National Guard Military Funeral Honors, fold the U.S. Flag that draped Doug Burtell's casket during interment services at the N.D. Veterans Cemetery, April 8, 2021. (National Guard photo by retired Lt. Col. Shirley J. Olgeirson, N.D. National Guard historian)
Col. Jon Erickson, N.D. National Guard chief of staff, hands a U.S. Flag to Doug Burtell's daughter, Barb Conley, at the chapel of the N.D. Veterans Cemetery, April 8, 2021. The flag was draped across Burtell's casket during his interment services. (U.S. National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brett Miller, N.D. National Guard Visual Information)
Burtell was only 16 when he joined the 164th Infantry Regiment in late 1940, never dreaming that he’d be dodging shells on a remote South Pacific island by the time he turned 18. Assigned to the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Section of regimental headquarters, he was trained to interpret aerial photographs, draw maps based on reconnaissance patrols, and analyze captured materials.
Two Hooligans Lead the Way for Enlisted Aviators
Two Happy Hooligan sensor operators make N.D. Air National Guard history as they reach a significant milestone in their careers. (U.S. Air National Guard story and photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp, 119th Wing Public Affairs)
CEAs include flight engineers, aircraft loadmasters, flight attendant, airborne cryptologists, airborne mission systems operators (including sensor operators) and a few others. Enlisted aviators get their wings at the basic level, they add a star on top of the wings at senior level, and they add a wreath on top of the star at master level.
While the NDANG did have aircraft load masters in the past, it is very unlikely that any served in that role for the fifteen years required for the master level. This pair of Airmen began their path to master wings during a force structure change in the unit in 2006. DoD had recently completed the base realignment and closure (BRAC) process, which included a threat to move the organization to the Grand Forks Air Force Base, in what was justified as a potential cost savings. Later it was determined to keep the 119th Wing in Fargo.
Senior leaders was striving for relevant missions that would continue to keep the Happy Hooligans in a vital role. Many believed there was a tremendous future in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations, now referred to as remotely piloted aircraft (RPA). The Hooligans were well suited for this groundbreaking mission because of all of their aviation experience. Selected Airmen began to train for this mission even before the unit had officially been assigned aircraft, and it all began with four Happy Hooligans including ISO 1 and 2. They took a leap of faith with their careers.
“We dropped everything for 13 months without even knowing this (MQ-1 Predator at the time) aircraft would be our mission,” said ISO 1. It was the third career change for ISO 2, all within the NDANG. He was a drill-status Guard member in avionics for 18 years, and became a title 32 technician for 5 years before assuming his new role in the RPA mission. There's no doubt these Airmen were trailblazers in every way for the Hooligans that followed them. “We were the first and we had the worst living conditions, staying in the worst places, learning through trial and error so we could make it better for the rest,’ said ISO 2.
Dawsyn Rusch is flanked by U.S. Air Defense Artillery equipment during his enlistment ceremony at the Raymond J. Bohn armory complex on April 2, 2021. On the left is the AN/TWQ-1 Avenger and an AN/MPQ-64A3 Enhanced Sentinel Radar is on the right. Rusch enlisted into the Air Defense Artillery career field.