News: North Dakota soldiers return to US after year in Afghanistan
FARGO, N.D. - Several North Dakota National Guard soldiers who have been serving in Afghanistan since last winter returned to the U.S. last night. The guardsmen with the Bismarck-based Detachment 42 Operational Support Airlift landed in Texas around 10:20 p.m. Central time, Nov. 6. They will conduct demobilization processing at Fort Hood, Texas, before returning to North Dakota.
"This has been yet another successful mission for our highly experienced and qualified aviators," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, who was in Texas for the group's arrival. "They have flown missions around the globe and, for the past year, they've provided invaluable support to troops on the ground in Afghanistan. I'm grateful for their service and sacrifice this past year, as well as for their families' sacrifices back home."
The highly specialized aviation unit operated King Air 300 aircraft equipped with Medium Altitude Reconnaissance Surveillance System platforms to provide aerial surveillance and support for military members on the ground. They served alongside other fixed-wing detachments from Arkansas, Maine, New Mexico, Puerto Rico and Utah. Together, the units comprised Task Force ODIN, which stands for observe, detect, identify and neutralize.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Travis Bridwell, of Bismarck, serves as the unit's commander while 1st Sgt. Russell Garrett, of Pick City, N.D., serves as the senior noncommissioned officer.
A Jan. 16 send-off ceremony in Bismarck wished the unit well on its third deployment during the global war on terrorism. Detachment 42 previously deployed from April 2009 to February 2010 to Djibouti and from September 2004 to March 2005 to Afghanistan.
The unit is expected to be at Fort Hood for the next several days before returning to North Dakota. Once the soldiers' return schedule is confirmed, it will be publicized by the North Dakota National Guard Public Affairs Office.
With the unit's return to the United States, only a few North Dakota Guardsmen on individual deployments remain overseas, although members of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 285th Aviation Regiment are expected to arrive in Kosovo soon for a yearlong mission.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 4,000 soldiers and more than 2,400 airmen in support of the global war on terrorism. About 70 percent of all members serving today have joined since that time. Currently, only a few North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas and more than 200 are on duty in Washington, D.C. With a total force of about 4,400 Guardsmen, the North Dakota National Guard remains ready for stateside response and national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in North Dakota, 65 serve in the North Dakota National Guard, a rate that's more than four times the national average.