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TAG Line August 6, 2021

Officer Candidate Marcus Johnson, Washington National Guard, left, and Officer Candidate David Moll, North Dakota National Guard, during a field exercise at Fort Meade, South Dakota, July 20, 2021. (National Guard photo by Sgt. Tyler Wall, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)

OCS Training

Eighteen Officer Candidates returned to North Dakota from Fort Meade, South Dakota, July 31, 2021, after completing various phases of Officer Candidate School (OCS). The OCS program provides training focused on leadership, troop leading procedures, warrior tasks and battle drills, military history, weapons familiarization, and intense physical training in preparation of earning officer commissions as second lieutenants in the N.D. Army National Guard. (National Guard story by Officer Candidate Michaela C.P. Granger, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs Office)

Soldiers of Class #21-002 plot their points during night land navigation at Fort Meade, South Dakota, July 27, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Fort Meade cadre)

Soldiers of Class #21-002 conduct a six-mile ruck march at Fort Meade, South Dakota, July 22, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Fort Meade cadre)

Three candidates, Officer Candidates Rachel Church, Jonathan Kranz, and Tanner Rafteseth, began their training at Fort Meade in June, completing all three phases over an eight-week period. Officer Candidate David Moll joined them during phase II of the program. All four will officially graduate at their home state, August 21, 2021, at Camp Grafton Training Center, North Dakota, and become second lieutenants in the North Dakota National Guard.

A Soldier in phase III of the Officer Candidate School briefs an operation order during a field training exercise, July 21, 2021. (National Guard photo by Sgt. Tyler Wall, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)

Officer Candidates Tanner Rafteseth, Rachel Church, Jonathan Kranz, and David Moll in front of Mt. Rushmore, July 30, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Officer Candidate Rachel Church)

The other fourteen candidates finished phase I over a two-week course that began July 17, 2021. They will conduct phase II over drill weekends at Camp Grafton Training Center. They are set to complete the final phase and graduate from the program next summer.

Officer Candidate Riley Altenburg, North Dakota National Guard, left, performs the duties of first sergeant for Class #21-002 under the instruction of 1st Sgt. Daniel Amoruso, Idaho National Guard. (Photo courtesy of Fort Meade Cadre)

Chaplain professional development course

Eighteen North Dakota Army and Air National Guard Religious Support Team (RST) members attended a three-day chaplain professional development training course at Camp Grafton Training Center (CGTC), ND., Aug. 2 to 4, 2021. (National Guard photos and story by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp, 119th Wing)

Photo: Chaplain assistant Tech. Sgt. Joshua Bartholomew, 119th Wing, takes a defensive posture with an orange training weapon protecting Chaplain (Lt. Col.) James Cheney, a chaplain in the 119th Wing, during chaplain professional development training at Camp Grafton Training Center (CGTC), N.D., Aug. 3, 2021.

The course included classroom instruction and discussions, as well as hands-on religious support team tactical movement training, with chaplains and their enlisted Airmen and Soldier support personnel simulating convoy attack response practices at CGTC.

The course included a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter familiarization flight, a likely form of transportation during overseas deployments as well as in-state emergencies. Other topics covered were religious liberty and religious accommodation, and a cultural awareness brief.

Religious Affairs Non-commissioned officer Sgt. Stephanie Fuchs, 131st Military Police Battalion, holds a training weapon as she takes a defensive posture securing her chaplain during chaplain professional development training at Camp Grafton Training Center, N.D., Aug. 3, 2021.

UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jay Knopp, 1st Battalion. 112th Aviation Battalion, right, gives a pre-flight briefing prior to a familiarization flight for Religious Support Teams during chaplain professional development training at Camp Grafton Training Center, N.D., Aug. 3, 2021.

188th Army Band Range Fire

Twenty-five 188th Army Band Soldiers conducted weapons qualification at a Camp Grafton South range, near Devils Lake, N.D. July 19, 2021. (National Guard story and photos by Sgt. Taryn Benton, 188th Army Band)

This was the first time 188th Army Band Soldiers participated in the updated U.S. Army marksmanship standards which features four firing positions.

Soldiers were issued four 10-round magazines to engage 40 pop-up targets from four different shooting positions. Soldiers started in the standing position; followed by prone unsupported and supported; kneeling supported; and finished in a standing supported position. Soldiers use a barricade to change magazines and positions within an 8-10 seconds time limit. All participating band Soldiers qualified with their M-4 Carbines to the new Army standards.

Staff Sgt. Kelsy Johnson, 188th Army Band, fires her M-4 Carbine for qualification at Camp Grafton Training Center, July 29, 2021.

Happy Hooligan Runs to inspire

Senior Master Sgt. Brandon Miller, 177th Intelligence Squadron, ran the 107.3-mile version of the Maah Daah Hey Trail ultramarathon in 30 hours, 17 minutes in the beautiful badlands of North Dakota, July 31 through Aug. 1, 2021. (National Guard photos and story by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp, 119th Wing)

Senior Master Sgt. Brandon Miller, 177th Intelligence Squadron, begins the 107.3-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail ultramarathon at 6 am on the rugged dirt path of the trail in the beautiful badlands of North Dakota, July 31, 2021.

This ultramarathon is like completing four regular 26-mile marathons in a row on a dirt path through hills and gullies, day and night with a headlamp to illuminate the trail in the dark. This race, which is normally 106 miles long, became 107.3 as the route was changed due to recent wildland fires.

Miller finished the race in fourth place and was one of only eight runners to finish the race at all, which began with 21 participants. Temperatures reached the low 90s during the day and dipped into the 50s at night. The runners battled muscle aches and pains, cramping, blisters, running in heat and forest fire smoke, and other uncomfortable weather conditions.

"I think anyone can do something like this. I'm not special. When I started training back in January, I struggled just to run 5 miles," said Miller.

Senior Master Sgt. Brandon Miller, of the 177th Intelligence Squadron, takes a short break as his support and gear (SAG) team members tend to him during his run on the rugged path of the 107.3-mile version of the Maah Daah Hey Trail ultramarathon in the beautiful badlands of North Dakota, July 31, 2021

Miller’s support and gear (SAG) team included fellow Happy Hooligans 1st Lt. Kyle Knutson, Senior Master Sgt. Scott Flickinger, Master Sgt. Darrin Quam, and Master Sgt. Lezlee Pihlgren. Civilians team members included Jodi Flickinger, Maren Krugler, Ken Shupe, Eric Polries, Brian Miller, Heidi Brunetto, Melissa Haugrud, Mark Miller, Deb Miller, and his long-time girlfriend Erika Shupe. His team was fully committed to his success driving ahead and waiting for hours at each checkpoint tending to his needs much like a NASCAR pit crew. One SAG member was allowed to run with Miller after the 50-mile mark primarily for moral support and for safety, during the nighttime hours, wearing headlamps to view the 12-inch dirt path winding up and down the hills and gullies in the rugged terrain of the badlands.

Miller has long been a runner, even before he participated in high school track and cross-country while growing up in Fessenden, N.D. He has many 5ks and 10k races to his credit, running his first 50k ultramarathon while at military training at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, in 2013.

Miller, who also completed this ultramarathon in 2019, ran to inspire fellow Airmen’s physical fitness and conditioning, and to improve on his previous time of 34 hours, 11 minutes. He also ran to honor his cousin, Maren, who is battling cancer. Watching her courageous fight showed him how much a person can fight and endure.

“Maren inspired me to push my body farther than it’s ever gone, so I decided to run the 2019 100-mile Maah Daah Hey ultramarathon again,” said Miller.

Senior Master Sgt. Brandon Miller, of the 177th Intelligence Squadron, runs on the rugged dirt path of the 107.3-mile version of the Maah Daah Hey Trail ultramarathon in the beautiful badlands of North Dakota, July 31, 2021.

Another big motivator for Miller was his plan to propose marriage to his girlfriend at the finish line. Thoughts of the proposal helped drive him to finish. His cousin Eric gave him the ring to carry for the last 7-mile leg of the race.

Senior Master Sgt. Brandon Miller successfully proposes to Ericka Shupe at the finish line of the 107.3-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail ultramarathon, August 1, 2021.

Former Happy Hooligan Nick Ybarra, who was the 2006 North Dakota Air National Guard Airman of the Year, as a Senior Airman in the 119th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, operates the race and runs a non-profit organization dedicated to ‘saving the Maah Daah Hey Trail.

Miller’s advice for those who wish to attempt an ultramarathon is that, “Anyone who wants to accomplish something, whether physical or mental, needs to set goals, dedicate the time, ensure their effort gets them to that goal. If you want it - put in the work and you can do it!”

Remembrance Retreat

The North Dakota National Guard's Survivor Outreach Services (SOS) hosted the 5th Annual Remembrance Retreat over the weekend of July 30 to August 1, 2021, in Bismarck, N.D. The retreat is a time for the families of the fallen to gather together and honor their fallen loved ones. (National Guard story and photos by Spc. Thea Jorgensen, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)

SOS has organized and hosted the event for all five years, with support from the North Dakota National Guard. This official Army Survivor Outreach Support program is designed to provide long-term support to surviving Families of Fallen Soldiers.

This year, 17 fallen service members were represented during the event. Families from all branches of services are welcome to participate in this annual event, regardless of how their loved one died. It is a weekend full of tears, laughter, love, honor, and remembrance.

Families of the Fallen met at the 5th Annual Remembrance Retreat in Bismarck, N.D. over the July 30 to August 1, 2021 weekend. They spent three days sharing stories of their loved ones, singing music, and lighting candles in honor of their fallen service member.

The families were joined by members of the North Dakota National Guard’s leadership team, including Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, N.D. adjutant general, Chaplain (Col.) David Johnson, state chaplain, and the N.D. National Guard's senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Binstock. The Keynote Speaker, Dr. James Coyle, walked the family members through exercises on grief and brought out his guitar a few times. It's Coyle’s second time presenting at this event in his role as a grief care specialist. The retreat provides families a chance to connect and share stories with each other and members of the National Guard. It is one small way that the N.D. National Guard lives up to our promise that “We Will Never Forget.

Seventeen Service Members were represented at the 5th Annual Remembrance Retreat in Bismarck, N.D. over the July 30 weekend. They spent three days sharing stories of their loved ones, singing music, and lighting candles in honor of their fallen service member.

Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, N.D. adjutant general, left, stands next to the N.D. Survivor Outreach Services Coordinator, Sara Blazek, Kristie Fetsch, and Dr. James Coyle at the 5th Annual Remembrance Retreat in Bismarck, N.D., July 30, 2021.
Brenda Deckard, the mother of Christopher Deckard, presents Chaplain (Col.) David Johnson with a gift of thanks during the 5th Annual Remembrance Retreat in Bismarck, N.D. on July 30, 2021.

Families of the Fallen met at the 5th Annual Remembrance Retreat in Bismarck, N.D. over the July 30 weekend. They spent three days sharing stories of their loved ones, singing music, and lighting candles in honor of their fallen service member.

Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Binstock, right, visits with Ed Deckard, father of Christopher Deckard, during the 5th Annual Remembrance Retreat in Bismarck, N.D., July 31, 2021.
Delores Brunen, left, and Dr. James Coyle play guitar together during the 5th Annual Remembrance Retreat in Bismarck, N.D., July 31, 2021.

Combating biases

Robert Roehrich, State Equal Employment Manager, conducted equal employment professional development training at Fraine Barracks, Bismarck, N.D., August 2, 2021. (National Guard story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Charles Highland, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs Office)

The presentation focused on unconscious and conscious biases, negative stereotypes, and how this can hinder our goal of a fully inclusive working environment. The intent of this instruction is to provide employees with general awareness helping them understand that different life experiences can cause people to have specific biases, whether conscious or unconscious.

Robert Roehrich, State Equal Employment Manager, briefed at professional development at the Fraine Barracks, Bismarck, August 2, 2021.

Command Sgt. Maj. Derek Heck, N.D. Army National Guard state command sergeant major, was among the leaders in attendance to equal employment professional development training, Bismarck, August 2, 2021.

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