News: Combat Action Badges presented to two families of fallen North Dakota soldiers
BISMARCK, N.D. - The North Dakota National Guard presented the families of fallen soldiers, Staff Sgt. Ken Hendrickson and Sgt. Keith Smette, the U.S. Army Combat Action Badge for their service in Iraq at an ceremony today at the "Memorial to the Fallen in the Global War on Terrorism" in Bismarck. The Combat Action Badge is awarded to soldiers for actively engaging with the enemy. Both of the soldiers were deployed with the 957th Engineer Company (Multi-role Bridge) in 2003 and were killed in action Jan. 24, 2004.
"Today is another solemn reminder that the price of freedom is not free, as the families of these fallen heroes can attest," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. "Staff Sgt. Hendrickson and Sgt. Smette selflessly sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom and deserve to be honored for their distinguished and valiant service to our state and nation. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families who live each day without their loved ones."
Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, presided over the ceremony, honoring both soldiers for their service in the NDNG. "It is appropriate that we gather here, as this memorial honors the 24 North Dakotans who have lost their lives serving in combat overseas during the Global War on Terrorism. Each name enshrined on this memorial, serves as a reminder of the sacrifice and service offered by these brave North Dakotans in defense of our nation's freedom. Today we especially honor Staff Sgt. Hendrickson and Sgt. Smette for their actions during GWOT," Sprynczynatyk said.
In keeping with the spirit of the Warrior Ethos, the Combat Action Badge provides special acknowledgment to soldiers who personally engage the enemy or are engaged by the enemy during combat operations. The oak wreath symbolizes strength and loyalty. The Combat Action Badge may be awarded to any soldier after the date of Sept. 18, 2001, performing duties in an area where hostile fire pay or imminent danger pay is authorized. Both Hendrickson and Smette were awarded their Combat Action Badge for actions on Jan. 24, 2004.
The 175 soldiers of the Bismarck-based unit found themselves packing quickly in February 2003, when they mobilized to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., for training in anticipation of a war beginning in Iraq.
The unit arrived in Iraq in April 2003 and began to haul cargo as well as transport, assemble, disassemble and maintain U.S. Army bridging systems.
They were the first unit to be equipped with the M1977 Common Bridge Transporter trucks for the mission. Three Soldiers were killed during the deployment, and four were seriously wounded. The first NDNG member killed in action since Sept. 11, 2001 was Spc. Jon P. Fettig, on July 22, 2003. Fettig was also a member of the 957th Engineer Company.
The unit demobilized in May 2004. While deployed, the 957th accumulated more than 575,000 road miles, conducted hundreds of convoys from one side of Iraq to the other and ran transportation operations from Kuwait to all of the operation bases in Iraq. The unit also conducted water patrols on the Tigris River near Baghdad. Additionally, the 957th was awarded the Valorous Unit Award on March 23, 2007. Members earned this award for superior mission performance during Operation Iraqi Freedom from April 25 - Sept. 18, 2003. A unit earning this award is comparable to an individual earning the Silver Star and is awarded for extraordinary heroism.
Hendrickson was originally from Bismarck and Smette was from Makoti, N.D.
Date Posted:06.29.2012 22:03
Location:BISMARCK, ND, US
- Guardsmen coordinating with area agencies to support Cavalier
- Annual Memorial Day Ceremony planned at North Dakota Veterans Cemetery
- Employers recognized for supporting Guard members
- Remembrance ceremony to place names of fallen soldiers on memorial