News: Happy Hooligans return from Southwest Asia
FARGO, N.D. - Some Happy Hooligan families celebrated Christmas in June when their loved ones returned from a six-month deployment to Southwest Asia today. More than 50 airmen with the North Dakota Air National Guard's 119th Civil Engineer Squadron deployed before the holidays last year, and a number of families decided to postpone their celebrations until they were all together again.
Twelve of those airmen returned to Fargo's Hector International Airport this morning, Flag Day, although their flight was delayed by weather. The remaining two flights were anticipated to arrive by 3 p.m. today, but have been delayed. Most are expected to arrive yet this afternoon on Delta flight
2122 from Minneapolis.
"It's great to be here to be able to welcome home a group of fine young men and women and thank them for all of their hard work during the past six months," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, N.D. adjutant general, as he greeted the first group to deplane. "It's also a good opportunity to thank their families for their service and sacrifice through the holidays and the winter months while their Airmen served our great country."
Sprynczynatyk was joined by Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley and numerous Guard members, families and friends who filled the airport.
Since December, the Airmen racked up a long list of accomplishments that contributed to security and sustainment of the base. The Guardsmen maintained hundreds of facilities, more than 150 generators and light carts and two Mobile Aircraft Arresting Systems. They also repaired eight miles of perimeter berm, installed shower trailers, renovated buildings, serviced
1,400 HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) units, rebuilt the main base entry to improve security, completed a $1.6 million electrical distribution/substation project and completed another 20 construction projects valued at $4 million. The Guardsmen also worked on airfield sustainment, repairing 28 airfield spalls and 8,000 feet of joints as well as repairing and maintaining 450 airfield lights. They completed numerous smaller projects, as well.
"I think the mission in the last six months has been great. Our guys did a lot of hard work," said Lt. Col. Jon Wahlgren, who commanded the group during the deployment alongside Chief Master Sgt. Scott Terry, the senior enlisted leader. "We were involved in the teardown of the largest bed-down program in the AOR (area of responsibility) with the drawdown in Iraq (and) numerous construction projects and works across the base, making improvements for not only several missions but also for everything at the location."
He said the Airmen "received kudos" for their work from everyone on the base of all ranks.
It's rare for the Air Guardsmen to deploy in such a large group as with this deployment, rather than a few at a time. With this return, about 20 N.D. Air National Guard Airmen remain deployed overseas in Southwest Asia, Afghanistan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. About 300 North Dakota Army National Guard Soldiers also are deployed.