On the first day of BWC, the Soldiers competed in the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) to evaluate their stamina and strength. The ACFT consists of six events including a deadlift, standing power throws, and finishes with a two-mile run. The test is meant to mimic the physical endurance necessary for a soldier to go into combat situations.
Sgt. Lenzel Koskela, 191st Military Police Company, performs in the dead lift event during the Army Combat Fitness Test at the Best Warrior Competition on Aug. 13. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Drew Ward, 116th Public Affair Detachment)
The competitors wore their Army Service Uniforms (ASU) for the remaining day’s events. The Soldiers examined an ASU for discrepancies and had their own uniform inspected. Their ability to speak clearly was tested with an on-camera interview. The final events were a written exam and formal board interviews, comprised of a series of questions related to military knowledge.
Staff Sgt. Tek Khatiwoda, left, 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, and Spc. John Coombs, 188th Engineer Company, participate in the uniform inspection test during the Best Warrior Competition on August 13. The competitors must correct identify deficiencies on the Army Service Uniform (ASU). (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Drew Ward, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)
The final day of the competition, the soldiers rappelled down the side of the forty-foot tower and raced through a confidence course.
Sgt. Riley Altenburg, 164th Engineer Battalion, rappels down the side of a tower as Sgt. Brandon Wendland, 957th Engineer Company, steadies the rope during the 2021 State North Dakota National Guard Best Warrior Competition at Camp Grafton Training Center on Aug. 16, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michaela C.P. Granger, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)
Sgt. Brandon Wendland of the 957th Engineer Company won the title of State Best Warrior in the Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) category and Doss won in the Soldier category. Both soldiers showed outstanding determination when faced with the challenges presented by the demanding event.
Sgt. Brandon Wendland, 957th Engineer Company, does hand release push ups during the Army Combat Fitness Test during the 2021 State North Dakota National Guard Best Warrior Competition at Camp Grafton Training Center on Aug. 13, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Kristin L. Berg, 116th Public Affair Detachment/Released)
Vigilant Guard is an overarching exercise where multiple civil service agencies work together under a dual status command. A Dual Status Commander may command military members from multiple military branches and components. The exercise helps prepares local agencies for emergency responses that go beyond local capabilities, such as the 2011 Minot flood. In these events, the Governor may order the N.D. National Guard to assist.
North Dakota National Guard members from left to right Sgt. Travis Johnson, Master Sgt. Dennis Olsen, Sgt. Brent LaFontaine and Master Sgt. Craig Akerstrom, use hazardous material detection equipment during exercise Vigilant Guard at the N.D. Air National Guard Base, Fargo, N.D., Aug. 4, 2020. 119th Wing Emergency Management personnel teamed up with members of the North Dakota National Guard 81st Civil Support Team for a hazardous material detection exercise as part of exercise Vigilant Guard at the North Dakota Air National Guard regional training site. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)
More than 110 Soldiers and Airmen from the NDNG participated in Vigilant Guard, working alongside local emergency service agencies as a single team. The exercises, ranging from cyber security to rescue operations, allowed soldiers to build and maintain relationships with public entities. “The Guard says ‘live here, serve here,’ and we want to build those partnerships before an event like this happens,” Capt. Justin Johnson, 957 Multi Roll Bridge Company said.
Pvt. Seth Horn, of the 188th Engineer Company, uses a chainsaw to remove branch limbs that are blocking rescue access to a simulated victim during Exercise Vigilant Guard at Golden Lake, N.D., Aug. 5, 2020. (Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)
“Through these exercises, they now know our capabilities,” said Johnson. “It really reinforces what the guard can bring to an emergency situation.” Exercises like Vigilant Guard, allow civil service agencies to go through the process of identifying when they should request assistance, how to request assistance and how long it takes for the National Guard to arrive for duty.
Vigilant Guard allows organizations like the NDNG to hone their skills and show their commitment to the communities of North Dakota. “The Guard is always ready, always there,” Johnson said. “That’s not just a saying to us; our Soldiers take to heart that they serve their community.”
Sgt. 1st Class Benji Boll of the 188th Engineer Company, discusses search and rescue plans with Jason Sletten, the Hatton, N.D. assistant fire chief, during Exercise Vigilant Guard at Golden Lake, N.D., Aug. 5, 2020. (Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)
These same photos and videos often act as subtle reminders to Service Members on why they serve. The job of the 116th PAD is to capture moments in time that showcase the incredible obstacles Soldiers and Airmen overcome while pushing their absolute limits. Within a matter of 5 seconds we can depict exhaustion and endurance in one photo while capturing the excitement of competition and camaraderie in the next.
Spc. LaSean Pickstock, 957th Engineer Company, moves to his next station during common Soldier tasks during the N.D. National Guard Best Warrior Competition at Camp Grafton Training Center on Aug. 15, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Thea Jorgensen, 116th Public Affairs Detachment/Released)
Another component of the 116th PAD's mission is the archiving of our State and Federal missions and operations. One example is our involvement in the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program with countries like the Togolese Republic in west Africa. By efforts such as these, we are able to use stories and photos to remind our Soldiers and their families that what they are doing truly matters.
Maj. Shawn Markovic, 68th Troop Command, meets with village elders in the Kossi Kope region of Togo on March 20, 2019. The purpose of the meeting was to inform them of a first responder flood exercise occurring near their village the following day. U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Thea Jorgensen, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)
Another component of the mission is to showcase the incredible things our Guard members have accomplished in support of their communities in times of emergencies. Whether it's supporting mobile testing in a global pandemic, or assisting local authorities in their fight with flooding, we are responsible for documenting important moments.
Sgt. Ethan Micek, right, 957th Engineer Company, and Pvt. Jerome Sahli, 1st Battalion 188th Air Defense Artillery, work as data collectors at the COVID-19 mobile testing site at the N.D. State Capitol in Bismarck, N.D. on June 24, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brett Miller, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)
We also have the inherently difficult task of convincing srevice members to stand in front of a video camera for an interview. We are grateful to those who do. Their voices and perspectives are critically needed in telling the ndng story.
Sgt. Chase Bode, 816th Military Police Company, is interviewed by Sgt. Michaela Granger, 116th Public Affairs Detachment, at the COVID-19 mobile testing site in Jamestown, N.D. on June 18, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brett Miller, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)
The N.D. National Guard’s 164th Regional Training Institute (RTI-ND) at Camp Grafton Training Center, near Devils Lake, N.D., has not allowed the COVID 19 pandemic to slow its strategic march forward. In adapting to a changing environment, the RTI-ND has postured itself to supporting immediate and future training needs of the Army. As initial shock set into the nation in mid-March and classrooms went empty in May, the staff continued planning restart procedures to receive students in a safe manner.
Photo of the main building of the N.D. National Guard’s 164th Regional Training Institute (RTI-ND) at Camp Grafton Training Center, near Devils Lake. The institute's French moto "Je Suis Pret", or "I am Ready", is depicted above the main doors.
During the pandemic, the instructors have kept their engineer technical skills sharp by tackling tasks that improved Camp Grafton Training Center in quality of life and training area development such as the Richie Bridge Park and constructing eight-plexs housing units. Instructors also used this time to review new courseware.
Non-commissioned officer students of the 12H30 Advanced Leader course (vertical construction supervisor) are shingling an eight-plex building scheduled to be used as basic officer quarters. All students in class 008-20 (16 Soldiers) tested negative for COVID-19. (National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Dave Webber, 164th Regional Training Institute).
Engineer Captains Career Course to support the US Army backlog: The Department of Defense’s Stop Movement Order impacted Army courses to include the Reserve Engineer Captains Career Course (R-ECCC) taught at the U.S. Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood. The Engineer School turned to the RTI-ND to support and assist in hosting the R-ECCC thanks to the RTI-ND’s past successes with this course in 2013-2014.
Always ready to accept new missions demonstrates the RTI-ND’s agility to surge in support of Army requirements.
Members of Officer Candidate Class 64, OC Ryan Kamrowski, left, and OC Trevor Kleineschay, navigate the land navigation course on June 4, 2020 at the Camp Grafton Training Center.
Strategic Growth: RTI-ND also increased its ability to train Technical Engineer Specialists (MOST 12T) by adding the 12T-level 30 and 40 courses to the curriculum.
The RTI-ND is the only Army school that conducts all three-level courses for Technical Engineer Supervisors. This doubles of training 12T Soldiers across the Army.
A Student of 12T10 (Technical Engineer Specialist) Class 006-19, Military Occupation Skill Training (MOST), works with survey instruments on Aug. 2, 2019 at Camp Grafton Training Center. (National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Tyler Rupp, 164th Regional Training Institute).
The RTI-ND has proved its resiliency by not allowing the COVID 19 pandemic to stop overall progress. Utilizing its position as an Engineer subject matter experts, or SME, the RTI-ND’s safe and effective restart of Institutional Operations is another reason RTI-ND is a leader among Army training institutions.
The RTI-ND was able reschedule 90% of the courses affected by COVID-19 while posturing itself for additional mission requirements in support of the Army. As a three-time recipient of the Institute of Excellence and the Army Superior Unit Award, RTI-ND will continue to adapt and move forward large in part due to its culture to continuously strive for excellence.
The RTI-ND's comprehensive restart plan was so innovative it has received requests from other institutions and organizations to help develop their own restart plans.
1st Sgt. Brad Bergeron briefs incoming students in the RTI theater on July 6, 2020. The students from across the Army force structure were enrolled in various classes at the RTI-ND. The students were socially distanced in accordance to CDC and the N.D. Department of Health's guidelines and all are tested for COVID-19 before beginning classes. (National Guard photo by Maj. Chance Schaffner, 164th Regional Training Institute)
Facemasks and social distancing rules were followed on drill weekends. The unit installed several hand sanitizing stations and frequently disinfected commonly touched surfaces. In order to maintain social distance and minimize the potential spread of the virus, the 188th AB rehearsed on the drill floor instead of the smaller concert band room.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Landman presents Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Schwind a shadow box displaying her awards and other items from her career during her retirement ceremony at weekend training of the 188th Army Band on July 17, 2020 at the Fargo Armed Forces Reserve Center. Schwind served with the North Dakota Army National Guard for over 20 years. (National Guard photo by Sgt. Taryn Benton, 188th Army Band)
"The Deuce" at Annual Training
by Sgt. Jacques Junior Chapusette, 3662 Support Maintenance Company
The 3662nd Support Maintenance Company (SMC), nicknamed the "Deuce" is a one of a kind specialized maintenance unit assigned to the N.D. Army National Guard. The Deuce is comprised of a diverse mix of many different MOS’s. Sections include auto mechanic, armament and electronics, ground support equipment tech and a maintenance control team, all with unique and specialized capabilities.
The unit conducted this year’s annual training (AT) from July 11 to 25, 2020 at the Sustainment Training Center (STC) located at the Camp Dodge Joint Maneuver Training Center (CDJMTC) in Johnston, Iowa. The focus was to provide Soldiers the opportunity to develop additional skills within their MOS, while experiencing real world equipment faults during projects and diagnosing issues. Despite the complications, logistic and readiness obstacles created due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 3662nd SMC was able to travel to the STC and successfully accomplish their training goals.
This year, leadership developed extra precautionary measures in response to COVID-19 to ensure Soldiers’ health and well-being. Prior to travel, all Soldiers were tested and issued new personal protection masks. Soldiers also received a focused briefing on how to avoid the spread of the virus.
3662nd Soldiers were supplied with all the required facilities, equipment, personnel and logistical support to conduct training while at the STC. Instructors focused on providing vigorous teaching resources and skills to the 3662nd SMC. The shops at the are very modern containing advanced equipment. The unit didn’t need to bring any equipment or tools because they were all available at the STC.
A typical training day consisted of classroom instruction and mentoring by the STC staff followed by hands-on experience in the shop and field. Soldiers preformed maintenance on a variety of equipment. This offered new Soldiers the opportunity to diagnose real world faults and issues with unserviceable parts and components. Experienced auto mechanics and electronics technicians were provided the opportunity to expand their skills by working on equipment that the N.D. National Guard does not have in its inventory.
The maintenance control section supported these missions by processing work orders and ordering parts. When parts were not available for order the allied trades section was able to hone their welding and fabrication skills to create the needed parts.
In March the first cases of the COVID-19 were confirmed in North Dakota. During early state-wide testing missions the N.D. Department of Health’s (NDDoH) Microbiology Lab struggled to handle the increasing testing needs of the state, averaging less than 200 COVID-19 tests processed per day. However, over the years the CST cultivated a working relationship with the NDDoH, which made for an easier response to COVID-19.
Maj. Preston Schaffner, of the 81st Civil Support Team, takes a moment to rest before administering more COVID-19 tests at the mobile testing site at the Fire Hall in New Town, N.D. on July 13, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brett Miller, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)
The N.D. National Guard embedded Soldiers in the laboratory to assist their personnel. The 81st CST trained new laboratory technicians, increasing the lab’s capacity to process from 200 to nearly 5,000 tests per day. The CST worked with the Governor’s office to develop a predictability model, helping to create strategies combating COVID-19 as the impact grew. This included a plan for weekly testing of employees and residents of the state’s long term care facilities. Working with their partners in the N.D. Department of Emergency Services (NDDES), the 81st CST also helped to develop the presidential declaration ensuring North Dakota received the federal funding necessary to support the state’s countermeasures to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Maj. Aaron Norgaard, medical operations officer for the 81st CST and National Guard liaison to the N.D. Department of Health (NDDoH) is interviewed by KX News reporter Renee Cooper on April 3, 2020 at the NDDoH lab in Bismarck. (National Guard photo by Bill Prokopyk, N.D. Public Affairs Office)
In April, the 81st CST was the first team called out to the pilot mass testing site in Amidon, North Dakota. “We had no idea what to expect or what the limitations of the pilot site would be. The first several testing sites used paper forms to process the demographic information collected from the public. The initial structure and equipment of the first sites, along with challenges of dealing with unpredictable spring weather, complicated the process to collect samples and relay the necessary information to the state laboratory,” said Flanagan.
Lt. Col. Patrick Flanagan, commander of the 81st Civil Support Team, talks with Scott Davis, Executive Director of the N.D. Indian Affairs Commission at a mobile COVID-19 testing event on May 21, 2020 at the Dakota Magic Casino. (National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brett Miller, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)
For Capt. Schmidt, the work is rewarding and gratifying. Being able to interact with Soldiers from other units and the public is one of the best parts of her job as a member of the CST. With long hours and a lot of time spent away from family, it’s not an easy job. However, she is proud to wear the N.D. National Guard patch and the U.S. Army uniform.
Cpt. Laura Schmidt, survey team leader for the 81st Civil Support Team, prepares Covid-19 testing kits at the COVID-19 mobile testing site inside the Fire Hall in New Town, N.D. on July 13, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brett Miller, 116th Public Affairs Detachment/Released)
By September 1950, the 231st Engineer Battalion, from Grand Forks, Bottineau, Minot, and Cavalier, had been federalized and stationed at Ft Lewis, WA. A year later, the Battalion was sent to Nevada to begin construction on Camp Desert Rock Nevada Test Site, including fortifications at atomic test sites for explosions that began in October 1951. Personnel assigned to the camp were provided booklets that explained the importance of secrecy and were prohibited from discussing the tests, the military maneuvers, or any effects they felt from the tests. Troops kept their secrets well, as little is known about the experiences of the 231st Engineers at the camp.
The Fargo-based 178th Fighter Squadron and the 178th Weather Station (Type A), were called to active duty on April 1, 1951. Only 5 years old at the time, the 178th was assigned to Moody Air Force Base (AFB), near Valdosta, Ga., as part of the Strategic Air Command. Later the units moved to George AFB, Near Victorville, Calif., as part of the Tactical Air Command, flying F-51 Mustangs to augment the air defenses of the United States. Individuals served in Korea, one of whom was retired Maj. Gen. Alexander P. Macdonald, who flew 36 combat missions. The 178th Fighter-Bomber Squadron was released from active duty on January 1, 1953 and was redesignated the 178th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. The Runway Alert program began August, 1954 in Fargo as the squadron kept two F-51D Mustangs on alert status 14 hours a day.
N.D. Air National Guard Airmen fuel and perform pre-flight maintenance on a F-51 Mustang aircraft at the air base in Fargo, N.D.
Recently our agency was afforded the opportunity to hold various forms of federal observances to help employees increase their cultural competency while learning about people of different backgrounds. We also had opportunities to celebrate our own unique attributes, to include a chance to showcase our own culture, heritage, different abilities, religious backgrounds, regional heritage and lifestyle.
National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed annually in the United States from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. This is a WWII-era poster.
Recently, tele-health services have expanded to better serve people where they live. In 2018 ND Cares, the N.D. National Guard and the N.D. Department of Human Services collaborated with TRICARE to establish the human service centers as in-network TRICARE providers. Since March 1, 2019, the human service centers provided billed services to 97 individuals with TRICARE coverage. To find services within North Dakota, visit the Regional Human Service Centers. More information about mental health and substance use disorder care can be found on covered treatments on the TRICARE website.
Any of our great ESGR volunteers would happy to provide guidance related to these various levels of recognition. You can also reach out to me or our full time staff member, Janette Fetch at 701-333-2057. Thank you and your families for all of the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice you make to serve our state and nation.
Gratefully, your ESGR State Chair, Delton Steele
This is precisely the question nearly all religious faiths strive to answer in various ways. From my own faith perspective, for example, there is hope, not by our own efforts, which most often fall far short, but by the work of Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection offer forgiveness for our failings, the evil that we do not want to do, and the hope that He will give us success, even when we fail. His forgiveness takes away the guilt and paves the way toward true joy, ultimate happiness. Even more, He promises that through the hardships of life, when life does not seem at all fair or just, He teaches us to live a virtuous life, and through virtue we find happiness, so there is even joy in deep pain and suffering.