News: Leaders, community honor 188th Engineer Company soldiers, families
WAHPETON, N.D. — Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, along with other elected and military leaders and community supporters, filled the Claire T. Blikre Activities Center at North Dakota State College of Science today to honor North Dakota Army National Guard soldiers and their families.
About 160 members of the 188th Engineer Company (Vertical) received awards during the Freedom Salute ceremony. The soldiers returned in August from a yearlong deployment to Kuwait.
“It was a great day when we welcomed the men and women of the 188th Engineer Company back home to North Dakota and to their families, and now today, we celebrate their return and thank them for a job well done,” Dalrymple said. “While in Kuwait, they accomplished an impressive amount of work and completed their mission with pride and distinction. We are grateful to them and their families for their service and sacrifice."
The soldiers’ families also were presented awards today.
“To the families: I know you have the toughest job during a deployment,” Sprynczynatyk said. “I sincerely acknowledge your own dedicated service and thank you for all that you’ve done to maintain things at home while supporting your soldier on this deployment.”
He also thanked the soldiers’ employers, saying that without their support, the North Dakota National Guard would not be as successful.
Sen. John Hoeven and Congressman Rick Berg thanked the soldiers during the ceremony, as well.
The unit also had its own awards to present. Capt. Lucas Klettke, 188th Engineer Company commander, and 1st Sgt. Eric Binstock, the unit’s senior enlisted leader, presented an Outstanding Center of Influence award — in the form of a Minuteman statue — to Monty Zimmer, Oakes, N.D., mayor. They also presented the Unit Distinguished Center of Influence — a picture mural — to Jim Sturdevant, Wahpeton, N.D., mayor. The 188th Company is based in Wahpeton with a detachment in Oakes.
Previously, the unit presented Certificates of Appreciation to more than 60 businesses, organizations and individuals “who provided outstanding support throughout the deployment and who also contributed to the community-sponsored welcome event, Sept. 22, which also was proclaimed by the Wahpeton City Counsel as ‘Welcome Home Troops Day,’” Klettke said.
During the soldiers’ time in Kuwait, they dedicated numerous hours to assist with the drawdown from the war in Iraq as well as provided construction support on dozens of projects. More than 160 missions were completed, including eight trailer renovations and construction of a dining facility and theater. More than 83,000 hours were spent doing construction and another 3,000-plus hours were spent operating equipment.
During the deployment, 45 of the unit’s soldiers re-enlisted, agreeing to extend their service in the military even while away from their families and friends.