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TAG Line April 2, 2021

N.D. Guard Responds to Wildfire Near Medora

Top photo: One of two N.D. Black Hawk helicopters that deployed in response to wildfires near the town of Medora, N.D., sits on tarmac at the Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport, Dickinson, N.D. on April 1, 2021. The aircraft was refueling before assuming mission of aerial water delivery via the 600-gallon Bambi Bucket. Crew chiefs Staff Sgt. Andrew Iverson, right, and Sgt. Jared Reimer are preparing the bucket for the mission. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Maj. Josh Yri, 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment)

On April 1, 2021, in response to ongoing drought conditions affecting most of the state, Gov. Doug Burgum placed the N.D. National Guard on standby for wildfire response. Shortly after this announcement, Billings County requested assistance with a wildfire threatening the town of Medora, N.D.

The N.D. National Guard responded, after coordination with the N.D. Department of Emergency Services, with two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, each with 600-gallon water buckets. The helicopters dropped eight bucket loads on the fire at the direction of the N.D. Forest Service on April 1, 2021.

Top and left photo. A N.D. National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk carries a bucket full of water toward the wildfire near the town of Medora, N.D. (National Guard photo by Capt. Jacob Danduran, 131st Military Police Battalion). Center bottom: Medora exit sign on I-94 (Courtesy photo Grand Forks Herald). Right bottom: A Black Hawk helicopter carries a bucket full of water toward the wildfire. (Courtesy of Tom Stromme, Bismarck Tribune). All photos taken on April 1, 2021.
Arial photos of areas affected by wildfire near the town of Medora, N.D. on April 2, 2021. Bottom photo shows how close the fire came to the "Burning Hills Amphitheater"at Medora, N.D. (National Guard photos by Lt. Col. Mike Green, 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment (Security and Support))
Gov. Doug Burgum thanks Black Hawk crew chief Staff Sgt. Andrew Iverson near Medora, N.D., on April 2, 2021. Burgum flew on the helicopter conducting a reconnaissance of the area affected by wildfires. (National Guard photos by Lt. Col. Mike Green, 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment (Security and Support))

Gov. Doug Burgum discusses N.D. National Guard response during a press conference near Medora, N.D. on April 2, 2021.

Air Defenders Conduct Pre-Mobilization Training

About 225 Soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment (188th ADA) participated in training in Grand Forks and Fargo, N.D., in preparation for a potential mission to the National Capital Region. If ordered to mobilize, the unit would partner with other Department of Defense agencies in providing an integrated air defense system designed to protect NCR airspace. (U.S. Army National Guard story, photos and video by Officer Candidate Michaela C.P. Granger, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs Office)

Pfc. Matthew Tornow, right, and Staff Sgt. Garret Engelke, both of Shooter Battery, 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, train in the Stinger Improved Moving Target Simulator, or Stinger Dome, during their training and evaluation exercise, Grand Forks, N.D., March 27, 2021.

About 40 Soldiers were evaluated on their air defense skills at the Grand Forks armory on March 27. The unit was evaluated on crew and battle drills, targeting engagements, using the tabletop trainer and the stinger troop proficiency trainer, the Improved Moving Target Simulator (IMTS), better known as the "Stinger Dome”.

The IMTS provides realistic operator training critical for dismounted crews supporting the Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) mission by allowing them to track and engage aerial targets.

Photo: Pfc. Matthew Tornow, left, and Staff Sgt. Garret Engelke, 1-188th Air Defense Artillery, search for targets in the Improved Move Target Simulator, during their training and evaluation, Grand Forks, N.D., March 27, 2021.

There are only two such Stinger training systems in the U.S. Army; one at Fort Sill, Okla., the home of U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery, and this one in Grand Forks. The IMTS uses the latest technology to train Stinger teams using the techniques and skills required for in employing the Stinger Man Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS). The system can train two Stinger teams simultaneously and is used to identify, acquire and track airborne targets and launch missiles to defeat enemy air threats. The IMTS was upgraded January 2021, improving its immersive training capabilities. Inside the Stinger Dome, Soldiers use a training Stinger and search inside the 360-degree virtual reality dome for aerial targets, similar to a video game.

Additionally, about 35 Soldiers from the 1-188th ADA trained and were evaluated on the AN/MPQ 64A3 Enhanced Sentinel Radar (ESR). This system is used to alert and cue short range air defense platforms while providing commanders at division-level and below with 3D aerial coverage on the battlefield.

Pfc. Matthew Tornow, right, and Staff Sgt. Garret Engelke, 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, engage a moving target while training in the Improved Moving Target Simulator (IMTS), Grand Forks, N.D., March 27, 2021.

Maj. Mitchell Johnson, left, and Staff Sgt. Garret Engelke, 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, engage a moving target while training in the IMTS, March 27, 2021.

Spc. Joshua Legg, 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, trains on an AN/MPQ 64A3 Enhanced Sentinel Radar during the unit's evaluation at the Grand Forks Armory, Grand Forks, N.D., March 27, 2021.

Spc. Joseph Stafki, 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, trains on an AN/MPQ 64A3 Enhanced Sentinel Radar during the unit's evaluation at the Grand Forks Armory, Grand Forks, N.D., March 27.

Enhanced Sentinel Radar training includes proper battlefield emplacement of the radar in order to provide an essential air picture to the Forward Area Air Defense system. The air defense element 1st Battalion, 362nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment of the 157th Infantry Brigade from Camp Atterbury, Ind., conducted an evaluation of this training.

The Soldiers successfully completed their Table V gunnery tasks with the Enhanced Sentinel Radar, which enabled them to be certified for mobilization and deployment.

Photo: Spc. Joseph Stafki, 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, trains on an AN/MPQ 64A3 Enhanced Sentinel Radar during the unit's evaluation at the Grand Forks Armory, Grand Forks, N.D., March 27, 2021.

Hooligan Recruiter Honored by Local Women's Group

Tech. Sgt. Shelly Fink, a recruiter in the 119th Force Support Squadron, was honored at the 9th Annual Leading Ladies Luncheon hosted by the N.D. Women’s Business Center (NDWBC) at the Holiday Inn, Fargo, N.D., March 30, 2021. Fink was one of five women presented an ‘honoree’ trophy at the luncheon, with all five participating in 45 minutes of conversational speaking event facilitated by host Robbie Daniels, local radio personality on FM 107.9 The FOX. (U.S. National Guard story and photos by Chief Master Sgt. David Lipp, 119th Wing)

Tech. Sgt. Shelly Fink, right, a recruiter with the 119th Force Support Squadron, speaks among five individuals recognized as resilient women at the 9th Annual Leading Ladies Luncheon hosted by the N.D. Women’s Business Center, Fargo, N.D., March 30, 2021.

“It was inspiring to see what is being done by women in our community, and to represent the Hooligans on that stage,” said Fink.

Photo: Tech. Sgt. Shelly Fink, right, a recruiter with the 119th Force Support Squadron, speaks among five individuals recognized as resilient women at the 9th Annual Leading Ladies Luncheon hosted by the N.D. Women’s Business Center, Fargo, N.D., March 30, 2021.

About 200 people attended the luncheon featuring the candid question and answer event on the stage, timed to correspond with Women’s History Month in March. The NDWBC is an organization focused on helping women advance their careers, businesses and leadership skills. They fall under the national umbrella of the Small Business Administration (SBA) government agency. The theme of the event was ‘resilient women’ and the five honorees were chosen for their resilient qualities and accomplishments. The women were nominated anonymously by their peers, friends, family, or coworkers, and selected by a third party committee. Their identities were hidden from the committee during the selection process for objectivity.

“Shelly is a fantastic human, with all that she has accomplished in the military and in her life," said Christy Dauer, the NDWBC program director. "We wanted authentic conversations with these inspirational women here today.”

Deidre Hillman, N.D. Women’s Business Center (NDWBC) state director, left, presents Tech. Sgt. Shelly Fink a trophy recognizing her as one of five resilient women honorees at their 9th Annual Leading Ladies Luncheon held at the Holiday Inn, Fargo, N.D., March 30, 2021.

Fink shared stories about her military service and deployments, and talked about her experience recruiting young women and men. “The young women I recruit are going into historically male dominated careers and absolutely killing it! They load bombs, they fight fires, they protect the base and they are pushing us forward in more ways than one. I am so proud of them, and the path that they are paving for our next generation of Airmen", Fink added.

Aviation Soldiers Train in Cold Weather

Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment (Security and Support), participated in an overnight survival field training exercise (FTX) and a situational training exercise (STX) at Camp Grafton Training Center, near Devils Lake, N.D., March 26-28, 2021. (U.S. Army National Guard story, photos and video by Officer Candidate Michaela C.P. Granger, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs Office)

The Soldiers built shelters and slept outside overnight. Two instructors, Brett and Robert “Skip” Stoffel, with Emergency Response International, gave the Soldiers a refresher course on survival skills, reviewing basic tasks like how to insulate shelters and building fires. The STX scenario consisted of a search and rescue of lost fishermen on Devils Lake, using the unit's UH-72A Lakota helicopters. Soldiers practiced calling in 9 line MEDEVAC requests, which is an efficient way to request medical evacuation from the battlefield or in domestic emergency response scenario.

Cadet Hanna Sampel, 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment, prepares her overnight shelter with paracord during a field survival training exercise at Camp Grafton Training Center, March 26, 2021.

Sgt. 1st Class Scott Horst, 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment, builds his shelter in preparation for staying outside overnight during a field survival training exercise at Camp Grafton Training Center, March 26.

2nd Lt. Micah Johnson, 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment, starts a fire using a cotton-ball saturated with Vaseline as tinder, during a field survival training exercise at Camp Grafton Training Center, March 26, 2021.

2nd Lt. Trevor Kleineschay, 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment, builds an overnight shelter by securing paracord to a tree during a field survival training exercise at Camp Grafton Training Center, March 26, 2021.

Sgt. Michael Hoffert, 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment, tends a fire during a field survival training exercise at Camp Grafton Training Center, March 26, 2021.

Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment, grounded their equipment while gathering underneath a parachute shelter during their field survival training exercise at Camp Grafton Training Center, March 26, 2021.
Staff Sgt. Kathleen Beard, 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment, 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment, starts a fire using a cotton-ball saturated with Vaseline as tinder, during a field survival training exercise at Camp Grafton Training Center, March 26, 2021.
Robert “Skip” Stoffel, left, an instructor with Emergency Response International, explains the pros and cons of using a space blanket in a survival situation to Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment, during their field survival training exercise at Camp Grafton, March 26, 2021. While beneficial in some medical situations, the blanket is not very useful in survival situations.
Brig. Gen. Leo Ryan, N.D. Army National Guard commander, middle, and Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment, begin boarding a UH-72A Lakota helicopter during a situational training exercise at Camp Grafton Training Center, March 26, 2021.

Protecting the State

A team of two state employees have worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days each year, to monitor a system that protects federal and state equipment across the state. (National Guard story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Charles Highland, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs Office)

Mr. Dennis Biesecker, left, and Mr. Dale Kraft, both prior service National Guardsmen, monitor system status and alarms at Fraine Barracks, Bismarck, March 31, 2021.

Dennis Biesecker and Dale Kraft handle the Intrusion Detection System or IDT, that electronically monitors all of the sensitive item storage vaults located around the state. When an alarm is sounded, one of these two men respond. They also train new users, troubleshoot equipment and upgrade components when needed. Guard members across North Dakota rely on their unmatched expertise when an IDT alarm goes off.

Biesecker retired on March 31, 2021 after 24 years of service. During his time, he has worked for four adjutants general and seven directors of facilities and engineering.

Dennis Biesecker, left, explains to Command Sgt. Major Derek Heck, state command sergeant major, how he will stay busy after retiring on March 31, 2021.

Recognizing Vietnam Veterans

North Dakota celebrated the contributions of the Veterans of the Vietnam War during a brief ceremony at Memorial Hall, located in the N.D. capitol building, on March 29, 2021. (National Guard story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Brett Nelson, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)

Gov. Doug Burgum officially proclaimed March 29, 2021 as Vietnam Veterans Day in North Dakota. Also honored were members of the Gold Star family of Army Cpl. Dennis James Manson, of Belcourt, N.D., who was killed in Vietnam. The event was hosted by N.D. State Sen. Richard Marcellias and Mr. Jim Nelson, Commander, AMVETs. Burgum and Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, N.D. adjutant general, were featured guests.

Top left: Gov. Doug Burgum, left, is greeted by N.D. State Sen. Richard Marcellias at the Vietnam Veteran commemoration ceremony at the N.D. capitol on March 29, 2021. Top right: Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, N.D. adjutant general, speaks with Gold Star family members of Cpl. Dennis Manson. Bottom. From left, Marcellias, Dohrmann and Burgum meet with Ron Manson, brother of Dennis Manson (partially obscured).

North Dakota Army National Guard's Newest Officer

N.D. Army National Guard Officer Candidate School (OCS) graduate Erin (Hughes) DeMoe was recently commissioned as a second lieutenant at the Raymond J. Bohn armory on March 22, 2021. Originally hailing from Linton, N.D., “she was intrigued by the thoughts of travel, adventure and money for college.” In June 2000, she enlisted in the N.D. Army National Guard at age 17 with two high school classmate friends who are also still serving, Capt. Vanessa Lennick and Spc. Ashley Jahner. (U.S. National Guard story and video by Sgt. 1st Class Charles Highland, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs Office)

With the promise of spending their summers on the Missouri River, the three friends joined the 957th Engineer Company (Multi-Role Bridge) as Bridge Crew Members (Military Occupational Specialty 12C). All three Soldiers were deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003-2004.

Photo: From left, Spc. Ashley Jahner, 2nd Lt. Erin Demoe, and Capt. Vanessa Lennick at Demoe's commissioning ceremony, Bismarck, N.D., March 22, 2021. (Courtesy photo)

DeMoe continued her career working full time for the N.D. National Guard in various positions while simultaneously earning a Bachelors in Science of Nursing through Medcenter One College of Nursing in Bismarck, N.D. DeMoe and her husband Chief Warrant Officer 3 Yancey DeMoe, deployed together in support of Kosovo Force 12 (KFOR 12) from 2009 to 2010.

DeMoe began the OCS program in February 2020 and was branched Quartermaster Corps upon commissioning and assigned to the 142th Forward Support Company in Fargo. In her full time position she is the administrative assistant to the N.D. National Guard Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office Program (SHARP).

National Guard USERRA Update

Effective Jan. 5, 2021, National Guard members called to State Active Duty (SAD) under the three conditions listed below are covered under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).

Please remember that effective communication between your employer and you is key. Your military schedule should never be a surprise to your employer by ensuring you provide a copy of your drill and annual training schedule as soon as you receive it. Your command team can also send calendar or letter of thanks explaining your unit's mission or even invite employers to your unit during your training.

To learn more, click new coverage for certain SAD under USERRA. Additionally, you can read about the impact of COVID-19 to USEARRA.

Military Funeral Honors Training

Training Soldiers for Military Funeral Honors (MFH) is a constant effort. Receiving these honors is an privilege earned through military service. (National Guard story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Ben Halvorson, Camp Grafton Training Center)

Providing proper honors for service members' final recognition is extremely important. The N.D. Army National Guard's 40-hour MFH course is challenging and requires Soldiers to flawless learn to perform all movements and activities associated with a funeral ceremony. The latest course was conducted at Camp Grafton Training Center, near Devils Lake, N.D., March 14 to 19, 2021. Ten Soldiers were enrolled in the course led by Sgt. Collin Brumskill and Sgt. Kathryn McLaughin.

Properly folding the U.S. Flag as it is lifted from the casket is practiced by students of the Military Funeral Honors course, Camp Grafton Training Center, March 16, 2021.

Soldiers practice proper formation space and techniques while simulating a rifle salute volley performed at military funerals during the Military Funeral Honors course, Camp Grafton Training Center, March 16, 2021.

Staff Sgt. Michael Sanders, 164th Regional Training Institute, practices holding a bugle equipped with an electronic device that performs taps.

A Tale of Three Brothers During the Korean War

In January 1951, the N.D. National Guard's 164th Infantry Regiment and the 188th Field Artillery Battalion were ordered to active military service with the 47th “Viking” Division from Minnesota. (National Guard story by retired Lt. Col. Shirley J. Olgeirson, N.D. National Guard historian)

The N.D. National Guardsmen traveled by train to Camp Rucker, Ala., where they trained Soldiers from across the nation in infantry and artillery skills. Several North Dakotans were ordered to serve overseas as replacements, based on the needs of the U.S. Army units fighting in Korea. According to the book "Citizens as Soldiers" by Jerry Cooper, “over twenty-six hundred N.D. National Guardsmen served during the Korean War. Approximately eight hundred of them went overseas and sixteen died in combat. “

Gibbins Brothers, from left, vic, Donald and Everett.

Brothers Victor, Everett, and Donald Gibbins served in the Williston, N.D.-based Company E, 164th Infantry Regiment. While at Fort Rucker Donald was selected to deploy to Korea and his older brothers volunteered to go along with him. As fate would have it, Donald ended up near the end of the line when boarding the ship USS General S. R. Buckner headed overseas. Vic and Everett had already boarded the ship, but because there were more Soldiers than the ship could safely transport, Donald was left behind. In Korea, Donald's big brothers were assigned to Company L, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division while he was assigned as a clerk for United Nations Civil Assistance Corps Korea.

Vic and Everett fought together during harrowing battles on Sniper’s Ridge, Oct. 25 to 27, 1951, in the vicinity of Heartbreak Ridge and Bloody Ridge. Leaving a relatively safe post assigned by his platoon sergeant, Vic volunteered to help a medic who needed someone to “man the other end of a stretcher”. Over a period of 48 hours, the two carried an estimated 40 to 60 wounded Soldiers off the ridge to the battalion medical aide station, while loading the stretcher with supplies and ammunition for return trip. One of the last men carried down, beyond the help of medical care, was Vic’s platoon sergeant.

A view of Sniper's Ridge. (Courtesy photo)

All three brothers returned safely home after completing their overseas tour of duty.

Victor, left, and Everett Gibbins at the Command Post of Company L, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, which was located on the backside of Heartbreak Ridge, (Courtesy Photo)
Vic Gibbins, Company E, 164th Infantry Regiment and Korean War Veteran, waits to board a N.D. Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter headed to Williston from Bismarck on Sept. 19, 2012. Gibbins participated in the dedication of the "Ready Room" at Williston State College. The room commemorates the service of Company E, which was once headquartered in Williston.

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