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TAG Line May 14, 2021

Photo: North Dakota Army National Guard Sgt. Brandon Wendland views a map in the Call for Fire exercise during the 2021 Region VI Best Warrior Competition at Camp Rilea, near Warrenton, Oregon, May 5, 2021. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, Oregon Military Department)

North Dakota's Best Warrior

North Dakota Army National Guard Sgt. Brandon Wendland, 957th Engineer Company, took top honors in the noncommissioned Officer (NCO) category for the Region VI Best Warrior Competition (BWC) 2021 at Camp Rilea, Oregon, May 4-7, 2021. (National Guard story by Officer Candidate Michaela C.P. Granger, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs)

Wendland won the N.D. Army National Guard's BWC in August 2020, held at Camp Grafton Training Center, North Dakota, earning him the right to represent the state in the regional competition against other Soldiers from the eight-state region. N.D. National Guard's other representative, Cpl. Andrew Doss, 191st Military Police, took third place in the Region VI Soldier category.

The competition determined who will move on to represent the region, comprised of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming at the national level competition schedule for Camp Navajo, Arizona July 2021.

Sgt. Brandon Wendland, 957th Engineer Company, completes his essay on what the non-commissioned officers creed means to him and why during the 2021 Region Six Best Warrior Competition at Camp Rilea, near Warrenton, Oregon, May 4, 2021. (National Guard photos by Maj. Leslie Reed, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment).
Sgt. Brandon Wendland, 957th Engineer Company.
Sgt. Brandon Wendland, low crawls under a concertina wire during the Stress Shoot exercise at the 2021 Region VI Best Warrior Competition at Camp Rilea, near Warrenton, Oregon, May 6, 2021. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, Oregon Military Department)

The Region VI BWC was comprised of nearly 20 events which tested a wide range of skills, from the Soldiers’ military appearance and knowledge to their physical strength and endurance. Soldiers proved themselves on weapon qualifications, long ruck marches, land navigation and obstacle courses. The participants were tested with limited rest and sleep. The culminating challenge was an “Omaha Beach” event, in which the Soldiers ran from the Pacific Ocean to a station where they grabbed two heavy ammunition canisters over the high sand dunes, then turned around and sprinted to the finish.

Left and top right: Sgt. Brandon Wendland climbs a rope during the obstacle course challenge at the 2021 Region VI Best Warrior Competition at Camp Rilea, near Warrenton, Oregon, May 5, 2021. Bottom right: Wendland throws a training grenade at a target on May 6, 2021. (National Guard photos by Master Sgt. John Hughel, Oregon Military Department)
Sgt. Brandon Wendland, left, and Cpl. Andrew Doss of the North Dakota Army National Guard, use a litter to transport a simulated casualty to an Oregon Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter for medical evacuation during the 2021 Region VI Best Warrior Competition at Camp Rilea, near Warrenton, Oregon, May 7, 2021. Competitors performed first aid, transmitted a 9-line medical evacuation request and loaded the casualty into the helicopter. (National Guard photo by Maj. Leslie Reed, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
North Dakota Army National Guard Sgt. Brandon Wendland, left, and Oregon Army National Guard Sgt. John Mayer, take on the final event of the 2021 Region VI Best Warrior Competition, “Omaha Beach” at Camp Rilea, Warrenton, Oregon, May 7, 2021. (National Guard photos by Master Sgt. John Hughel, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)
Soldiers competing in the Best Warrior Competition low-crawl through the chilly waves of the Pacific Ocean during the final event, “Omaha Beach,” May 7, 2021.
Sgt. Brandon Wendland completes the final event of the 2021 Region VI Best Warrior Competition, “Omaha Beach” at Camp Rilea, Warrenton, Oregon, May 7, 2021.
Army National Guard Soldiers participating in the Region VI 2021 Best Warrior Competition celebrate completing their last event, “Omaha Beach,” along the Pacific Ocean at Camp Rilea, Warrenton, Oregon, May 7, 2021. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)
Army National Guard competitors from the 2021 Region VI Best Warrior Competition gather at the wreck of the Peter Iredale following the completion of a 12-mile ruck march at Fort Stevens State Park, near Warrenton, Oregon, May 7, 2021. (National Guard photo by Maj. Leslie Reed, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment).
Army National Guard competitors from the 2021 Best Warrior Competition for Region VI, Camp Rilea, Warrenton, Oregon, May 7, 2021. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

Brig. Gen. Gregory Day and Command Sgt. Maj. Lee Smith presented Wendland and the winner of the Soldier category with Army Commendation Medals. The goal of the Best Warrior Competition is to recognize the top performing Soldier and noncommissioned officers; but Smith added that the competition also characterizes the Army’s values and the Warrior Ethos among the participants.

Oregon Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Gregory Day, center left, and Command Sgt. Maj. Lee Smith, center right, present Army Commendation Medals to North Dakota Army National Guard Sgt. Brandon Wendland, left, and Wyoming Army National Guard Spc. Aiden Carroll for winning the non-commissioned officer and Soldier categories, respectfully, at the Region VI 2021 Best Warrior Competition, Camp Rilea, Warrenton, Oregon, May 7, 2021. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

Wildland Fire Training

The North Dakota Forest Service and the N.D. Department of Emergency Services partnered with the N.D. National Guard in conducting wildland firefighter certification, Bismarck, N.D., May 7 to 10. (National Guard story, video and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Charles Highland, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs Office)

A N.D. Forest Service instructor briefs National Guard members during wildland fire training in Bismarck, N.D., May 9, 2021.

The purpose of this training is to teach Guard members fire response tactics in the event the National Guard is asked to assist first responders on the ground fighting wildland fires. Twenty Soldiers and Airmen volunteered for the training.

Guardsmen learn how to create a fireline (firebreak) which cuts off the fire from its fuel supply, May 9, 2021.

Guard members receive training on fire suppression equipment mounted in the back of Hummer during wildland fire training in Bismarck, May 9, 2021.

Army Band Rocks Williston

Thirty Soldiers from the Fargo-based 188th Army Band traveled to northwest North Dakota to participate in the annual Williston Band Day festivities, May 8, 2021. (National Guard story and photos by Sgt. Taryn Benton, 188th Army Band)

The 188th Army Band's Blues in Green performs in the Harmon Park band shell, Williston, N.D., May 8, 2021.

Despite the cold, wind and rain, the Soldier musicians entertained Williston residents by performing an assortment of different styles of music by performing in two separate musical groups: Full Battle Rattle Brass Quintet and the Blues in Green variety band. The highlight performance was the 188th Marching Band as it led the Williston Band Day parade performing three pieces: The Army Song, Black Jack March, and Hosts of Freedom.

Members of the 188th Army Band led the annual Williston Parade, May 8, 2021.

Hooligans Host Working Dogs

The 119th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) personnel provided a unique training opportunity for several 319th Security Forces Squadron (SFS) military working dog (MWD) handlers from the Grand Forks Air Force Base at the North Dakota Air National Guard (NDANG) regional training site (RTS), May 13, 2021. (Air National Guard story and photos by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp, 119th Wing)

The Happy Hooligan EOD technicians provided explosives and positioned them for mass odor detection training scenarios for the dog handlers to locate with their dogs. The dogs are highly trained to locate explosives by scent for military security and joint government agency security purposes.

Master Sgt. Jason Lange, 119th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) technician, background, watches as military working dog handlers from the 319th Security Forces Squadron, Grand Forks Air Force Base, direct their dogs through a mass odor detection training scenario at the N.D. Air National Guard regional training site May 13, 2021.

The EOD technicians are trained to handle and position the explosives in a safe manner for the training and oversee the training to make sure the explosives remain safe.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Austin Dragoo, a military working dog (MWD) handler in the 319th Security Forces Squadron, Grand Forks Air Force Base, works as a team with his dog during a mass odor detection training scenario at the North Dakota Air National Guard regional training site, May 13, 2021.

The 119th SFS does not have any MWD handlers, but the NDANG’s RTS provides a good location for the 119th EOD personnel to place explosives in support of MWD training scenarios.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Austin Dragoo, a military working dog (MWD) handler in the 319th Security Forces Squadron, Grand Forks Air Force Base, praises his dog during a mass odor detection training scenario at the N.D. Air National Guard regional training site May 13, 2021.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Austin Dragoo, a military working dog (MWD) handler in the 319th Security Forces Squadron, Grand Forks Air Force Base, works as a team with his dog during a mass odor detection training scenario at the North Dakota Air National Guard regional training site May 13, 2021.

Re-Training Soldiers

The 164th Regional Training Institute (164th RTI), Camp Grafton Training Center near Devils Lake, N.D., trains between 64 and 128 Soldiers annually who are transiting to military occupational specialty (MOS) 12B combat engineer. During the height of the Global War on Terrorism, the 164th RTI re-trained nearly 500 Soldiers from nearly every MOS in the Army qualifying them as combat engineers. (National Guard story and photo by Maj. Chance Schaffner, 164th Regional Training Institute)

Spc. Micah Tweten, 817th Engineer Company, trains with the AN-PSS 13 mine detector during 12B combat engineer military occupational specialty training hosted by the 164th Regional Training Institute, Camp Grafton Training Center, May 8, 2021.

Promoting Total Fitness

About 40 Soldiers, representing various N.D. National Guard units, participated in the annual Wellness Camp hosted at Camp Grafton Training Center, Devils Lake, N.D., April 30 to May 2, 2021. (National Guard story by Staff Sgt. Brandi Schmidt, 116th Public Affairs Detachment.)

One goal of this program is to allow Soldiers an opportunity to do a self examination of their physical, mental, and emotional well being. Then with the help of nutrition, mental health and physical fitness experts within our ranks, start a new pathway to a healthier lifestyle in all areas of wellness.

“Our goal is to provide an opportunity for Soldiers to use all the education and motivation they gain from the weekend to break out of a rut and commit to lifelong wellness,” said Capt. Vanessa Lennick, Medical Service Corps Officer and a Registered Dietitian. “This program is not just for Soldiers who are flagged for height/weight; we need to remove that stigma because it is an opportunity to improve overall wellness for all members of the N.D. Army National Guard.

Staff Sgt. Brandi Schmidt, 116th Public Affairs Detachment and a registered yoga teacher, leads the participants of the 2021 Wellness Camp in a beginner yoga class at Camp Grafton Training Center, Devils Lake, N.D., May 1, 2021. (National Guard photo by Capt. Vanessa Lennick, N.D. Army National Guard State Medical Detachment)

Participants of the 2021 Wellness Camp enhance their flexibility through a beginner yoga class at Camp Grafton Training Center, Devils Lake, N.D., May 1, 2021. (National Guard photo by Capt. Vanessa Lennick, N.D. Army National Guard State Medical Detachment)
Participants are introduced to a Tabata/High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) class during the 2021 Wellness Camp at Camp Grafton Training Center, Devils Lake, N.D., May 1, 2021. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brandi Schmidt, 116th Public Affairs Detachment.)

The Wellness Camp’s training schedule was jammed back-to-back with hiking, weight lifting, yoga, and Tabata-style workouts. It also featured education on metabolism, macronutrients, food labels and participants conducted a grocery store tour to discuss food selection. Subject matter experts discuss topics like changing the mindset surrounding overall healthier well-being and developing goals with action steps.

Brig. Gen. Jackie Huber, N.D. deputy adjutant general, spoke on the first day to the participants highlighting the organization's investment of resources into Soldiers' well-being.

“We need your skills and ability in our organization,” said Huber. “We’ve invested a lot in our Soldiers and we want them to receive the tools needed to excel in their military careers. Additionally, the information learned during Wellness Camp can be brought back to other Soldiers, which is truly priceless.”

There were positive comments about the knowledge gained during this camp which has been conducted annually since 2016, except in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, with proper planning and appropriate social distancing, the annual event was conducted safely. “We’ve practiced social distancing throughout our weekend with all activities. We have learned a lot about ourselves and our overall health and wellness that will carry us into the future,” said Maj. Michelle Thomsen, N.D. National Guard State Resilience Coordinator.

Participants hike the White Horse Hill National Game Preserve near Devils Lake, N.D., May 1, 2021, during the 2021 Wellness Camp. (National Guard photos by Staff Sgt. Brandi Schmidt, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)

Fallen North Dakota Police Officer and Soldier Honored

About 250 people gathered at the state capitol's North Dakota Peace Officer Memorial, May 13, 2021, to witness the annual Peace Officer Memorial Day ceremony. (National Guard story and photos by Bill Prokopyk, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs)

During the ceremony, Cody N. Holte's name was added to the memorial's wall of honor. Holte, a Grand Forks police officer who lost his life on May 27, 2020 in the line of duty, also served as a lieutenant in the N.D. Army National Guard. Among the guest speakers was the Grand Forks Police Department's chief of police Mark Nelson, a retired command sergeant major who served as the N.D. National Guard's senior enlisted leader.

Bismarck Police Chaplain Les Wolfgram reads the names of the 65 law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty and are listed on the wall of honor at North Dakota's Peace Officer Memorial, May 13, 2021.

Grand Forks Police Department's chief of police Mark Nelson renders remarks at the annual Peace Officer Memorial Day ceremony at the North Dakota state capitol, May 13, 2021.

Flowers adorn the North Dakota Peace Officer Memorial, at the state capitol, May 13, 2021.

A sticker honoring fallen Grand Forks police officer Cody Holte was mounted on a Grand Forks Police Department patrol car.
Grand Forks Police Officer Cody N. Holte was the 65th law enforcement official added to the wall of honor at the North Dakota Peace Officer Memorial, May 13, 2021.

During the ceremony, Wayne Stenehjem, N.D. Attorney General, announced that Holte was posthumously named as the 2020 North Dakota Peace Officer of the Year.

Wayne Stenehjem, N.D. Attorney General, presents Cody Holte's wife, Mandy, and brother Brady Holte, the plaque naming him the 2020 North Dakota Peace Officer of the Year.

Trio Completes Air Assault Training

Three N.D. Army National Guard Soldiers completed Air Assault training at Camp Gruber Training Center, Oklahoma from April 27 to May 7, 2021. (National Guard story by Staff Sgt. Brandi Schmidt, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)

The Air Assault Course was conducted by the Army National Guard's Warrior Training Center's Mobile Training Team (MTT) out of Fort Benning, Georgia. Per their website, the Air Assault Course is 12 days in duration and prepares Soldiers for air mobile operations. During the course students train and are evaluated on combat assault, sling loads, rappelling, physical fitness, and various other critical skills. Students are required to complete an obstacle course and two-mile run on zero day before entering the course. Prior to graduation, students must successfully complete written and hands-on examinations, sling load tests, and a 12-mile foot march in under three hours with full combat load.

"Air Assault school was challenging but it was filled with a lot of fun and unique training," said Sgt. Benjamin Snyder, 818th Engineer Company. "The highlight of the course was rappelling from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at 90 feet AGL (above ground level)".

From left: Sgt. Stephan Brooks, 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment; Sgt. Benjamin Snyder, 818th Engineer Company; and Pfc. Jonathan Kranz, talion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment. Submitted photo.

Sgt. Stephan Brooks, 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment (1-188th ADA), is scheduled to deploy to the National Capital Region with his unit this summer and Pfc. Jonathan Kranz, also with the 1-188th ADA, is pursuing Officer Candidate School. They look forward to bringing their knowledge and new skills back to help their units.

Civilian Employees Receive Recognition

After professional development classes, Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, N.D. adjutant general, awarded three N.D. National Guard civilian employees command coins in recognition of their recent significant achievements at the Raymond J. Bohn Armory in Bismarck, May 12, 2021. Michelle Panos was honored for taking the lead and acting as the conduit between Fargo V.A. and the N.D. National Guard in providing safe areas to conduct COVID-19 vaccination clinics state-wide. Jennifer Scheet and Chris Martens were recognized for their roles in supporting the N.D. National Guard's efforts during the state's 67th Legislative Session.

Left, Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, N.D. adjutant general, awarded Michelle Panos a command coins for excellence at the Raymond J. Bohn armory in Bismarck, N.D., May 12, 2021. Right, Dohrmann awards Jennifer Scheet and Chris Martens.

Masking Veterans

Brig. Gen. Jackie Huber, N.D. deputy adjutant general, honored Bobbie Barnhardt, Washburn; Edie Wait, Jamestown; Ruby Meyhoff and Sandy Letzring of Center, North Dakota in Bismarck, May 11, 2021. (National Guard story and photo by Sgt. 1st Class Charles Highland, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs)

These women were recognized for their efforts in creating several thousand facemasks by hand. The masks were donated to the North Dakota Veterans Home in Lisbon; Military Service Centers in Fargo and Bismarck; and the Bismarck Cancer Center. During a VA immunization event hosted at the Raymond J. Bohn armory in Bismarck, more than 400 of these handmade masks were given to Veterans and their families.

Brig. Gen. Jackie Huber, N.D. deputy adjutant general and one of the volunteer maskmakers, Ruby Meyhoff, at the Raymond J. Bohn armory, Bismarck, N.D., May 11, 2021.

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