TAG Line Sept 20, 2019

Combat Engineers Honored for Actions in Iraq

Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, adjutant general, presented members of Company A, 164th Engineer Battalion the Valorous Unit Award (VUA) for their actions during their deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from Nov. 2005-Nov. 2006. The award was presented Sept. 14 at the Minot Armed Forces Reserve Center. Company A deployed with 122 Soldiers and was under the command of the 110th Engineer Battalion of the Missouri Army National Guard. Their main mission was to ensure the safety of Main Supply Routes used by friendly forces. The unit is credited with locating and disabling about 450 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and successfully patrolled more than 135,000 kilometers of routes. (Top photo: Members of Company A, 164th Engineer Battalion at the ceremony Sept. 14.)

According to the U.S. Army, the VUA is awarded to U.S. military units for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force. It can also be awarded to a unit serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the U.S. is not a belligerent provided the actions occurred on or after Aug. 3, 1963.

Top Left: The Company A, 164th Engineer Battalion guidon is presented to Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann (left) and Capt. (ret.) Jason Peterson, former Company A executive officer, during the VUA ceremony Sept. 14. Top Right: Dohrmann presents the citation of the VUA to Master Sgt. (ret.) Todd Aannerud and Capt (ret.) Jason Peterson. Bottom: Dohrmann addresses members of Company A during the ceremony on Sept. 14.

Adjutant General Recognizes High School Guard Members

Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann recognized five students who had recently enlisted in the N.D. National Guard during the Bismarck Century High Patriots vs. Bismarck High Demons military appreciation soccer match. The evening was dedicated to honoring military members, veterans and their families. As the large U.S. Flag was carefully unfurled on the field by the N.D. Army National Guard recruiting and retention team with help from the junior varsity soccer members from both schools, Dohrmann presented each of new Guard members a coin and reminded the crowd that less than one percent of the U.S. population currently serves in the military and thanked them publicly for stepping up to serve their state and nation.

For more information on the benefits of joining our team, check out N.D. Army National Guard or N.D. Air National Guard for details.

Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann presents a coin to Bismarck High student and newly enlisted Soldier, Brooke Leingang. Waiting in line are Christian Wavra, Ethan Handt, Kyler Bosch, and Brant Anderson all students at Century High School.

Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann addresses the crowd at the Century-Bismarck High soccer match on military appreciation night Sept. 17 at the MDU Community Bowl. Dohrmann recognized the five students standing at attention in the background for enlisting in the N.D. National Guard.

Fargo Air Museum Heart Flight Exhibit Dedication

The Fargo Air Museum opened a new exhibit that will honor the actions of the North Dakota Air National Guard during a December 1986 mission when asked to fly a donated baby heart from Fargo to an awaiting recipient in San Francisco. The exhibit, donated by Brig. Gen. Bob Becklund, includes the story of the 'heart flight', press clippings, two paintings by artist Marc MaGee and reflections from Karen and Steve McCann, parents of the infant heart donor.

On a bitterly cold December night in 1986, Gov. George Sinner, asked the adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Alexander Macdonald, if a jet was available for a special mission. An infant heart in Fargo needed to be in San Francisco for a waiting child who was scheduled for a heart transplant. Because of the severe winter weather, the Learjet that was scheduled to make the trip wasn't operational. 1st Lt. Bob Becklund, who was on alert that night, flew the mission in an F-4 fighter jet, with the lifesaving heart of donor Michael McCann riding in the seat behind him. Although there were challenges throughout the mission, the heart was delivered to the Stanford University transplant crew and the operation was successful, saving the life of recipient Andrew De La Pena.

"The North Dakota Air National Guard has a unique mission supporting both the President and the Governor of North Dakota. In this case we were able to execute a mission directed from the governor and help a family in need," said Becklund. "Although we now have different equipment and missions than we did in 1986, we still live by the precept 'Always Ready, Always There'.

In 1986, heart transplants were still considered experimental with no formal process for organ donation. LifeSource, the organization who manages organ donations for North Dakota, wasn’t founded until 1989, three years later.

Top left: Maj. Gen. (ret.) Alexander P. Macdonald, Susan Gunderson, Life Source CEO, Steve and Karen McCann, parents of Michael McCann, and Brig. Gen. Bob Becklund, stand in front the the F-4 jet display that bears the names of Michael McCann (heart donor) and Andrew De La Pena (heart recipient). Top right: Gunderson, Becklund and the McCanns look at the new display in the Fargo Air Museum. Bottom: Standing next to the Heart Flight exhibit, Becklund tells the story of the heart flight from his perspective.

N.D. Veterans Cemetery Director Honored by State Award

Ms. Pam Helbling-Schafer, director of the N.D. Veterans Cemetery, was recognized by Gov. Doug Burgum with the Harvest Award for Excellence in Quality, Thursday at the N.D. state capital. She was honored for her service to Veterans and their Families by carefully maintaining their final resting places, preserving their histories and for serving grieving families with professionalism and compassion during a difficult. The N.D. Veterans Cemetery, a state entity, is administered by the Office of the Adjutant General.

Pam Helbling-Schafer, director of the N.D. Veterans Cemetery, holds the Governor's Harvest Award moments after wining at the N.D. state capital on Thursday. Gov. Doug Burgum, left and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford presented the awards.

Pam Helbling-Schafer holds the Harvest Award at the N.D. state capital. Brig. Gen. Robert Becklund, deputy adjutant general nominated her for the award that was presented on Thursday, Sept. 19.

N.D. Army Combat Engineers Work With Ghanaian Partners

N.D. National Guard Soldiers will be demonstrating Counter-IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) awareness and counter-mobility principles to the Ghana Armed Forces' combat engineer cadre and students. They will share tactics, techniques, and procedures within this bilateral engagement.

Since 2013, the 164th Regional Training Institute - North Dakota (164th RTI-ND) hosts Ghana Engineer School cadre members at the schoolhouse at Camp Grafton Training Center to assist with their program of instruction. This partnership provides sharing of information, knowledge and techniques and in return allows our partners to improve their skills, and to better train their own forces in Ghana.

This week in Ghana, N.D. Guard Soldiers engaged with our Ghanaian military partners to discuss future engineering projects under the auspices of the State Partnership Program. Left to right: Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Narum; Col. David Bruschwein; Col. Shooter, commander, Ghana Engineer Department Headquarters; 1st Sgt. Donald Seerup; Lt. Col. Nyuur, commandant, Ghana Engineer Training School; and Maj. Chance Schaffner.

Soldiers from the N.D. Guard's 164th Regional Training Institute Sgt. 1st Class Josh Haugen and Staff Sgt.Chad Shockman along with the 818th Engineer Company's Sgt. Jacob Thompson discuss combat engineer principles with the Ghana Armed Forces Sept. 13 at their engineer schoolhouse.

Employer Recognized for Outstanding Military Support by Bismarck Mandan EDC

The Military Affairs Committee (MAC) of the Bismarck Mandan EDC (Economic Development Corporation) recently named the Falkirk Mining Company as the 2019 winner of the Golden Eagle. The award recognizes a member of the Bismarck Mandan EDC that best exemplifies great support of our armed forces.

According to Mr. Wayne Maruska, chair of the MAC, "The Golden Eagle award to recognize employers that have gone above and beyond to support military personnel throughout the community, but particularly within their organization.”

"Whether it’s recognition in the quality of personnel the armed forces provides them, community support, or the company's support for their employees' families during a deployment, this organization has time and time again proven their worth of this award," added Dohrmann.

Photo: Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, left, presents the 2019 Golden Eagle award to Mr. Joy Kost, president of Falkirk Mining Company while the chair of the Bismarck Mandan MAC, Mr. Wayne Maruska watches.

HRO Conducts Supervisor Trainings

During the last week in Fargo, the Human Resources Office (HRO) conducted supervisor training for members who supervise federal civilian technicians and Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) employees. The Federal Civilian Employee Supervisor training was conducted from Sept. 17-19 for 30 attendees and is designed to train, educate and engage supervisors of both Army and Air National Guard. The course consists of various subject matter experts providing supervisors the necessary skills and requirements needed to for their duties.

Following the federal employee training the HRO conducted AGR supervisor training for more than 20 attendees from Sept. 19-20. The purpose of this course is designed to train, educate and engage supervisors of Army National Guard AGR individuals. Next year, HRO will conduct an AGR supervisor course for the Air Guard supervisors.

Top and bottom: Maj. Ann Willoughby presents on employee engagement at the supervisors course. Right: Master Sgt. Curt Stetz recieves his certificate of completion from Col. Deb Lien, director of Human Resources.

Emergency Exercise Preparation

N.D. National Guard Soldiers and Airmen along with members of the N.D. Department of Emergency Services met this week in Bismarck to begin planning next year's Vigilant Guard exercise scheduled for Aug. 3-6, 2020. This exercise will be conducted at multiple training areas throughout the state to include the 119th Wing, Camp Grafton Training Center, and the Joint Operations Center in Bismarck. Vigilant Guard is a national-level exercise cosponsored by U.S. Northern Command and the National Guard Bureau. This annual event is held in different states and exercises joint natural disaster response between military forces and civil authorities in order to improve collaborative efforts. They also build partnerships which help improve disaster response efforts through communication, coordination and integration. During this exercise, participants are tested on a number of capabilities to include their emergency response to a natural disaster, hazardous material accidents, civil disturbances and/or radiological incidents. The 68th Troop Command, the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Joint Force Headquarters, and the 119th Wing will participate in Vigilant Guard as the state exercises a Dual-Status Command structure with Title 10 (active duty forces) and numerous civilian entities.

Sean Johnson, standing, of the N.D. Department of Emergency services discusses his agency's role with N.D. National Guard members at Fraine Barracks during the initial planning conference for the Vigilant Guard exercise scheduled for Aug. 2020.
Created By
ND National Guard Public Affairs Office