News: Air defenders to be honored during Freedom Salute ceremony
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - A formal welcome home ceremony will honor more than 200 North Dakota National Guard Soldiers who served on a yearlong deployment protecting the airspace around the National Capital Region in Washington. Members of the Grand Forks-based 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Regiment will be lauded during a Freedom Salute ceremony at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
This was the 10th deployment for the 1-188th ADA since 2004. It is the most-deployed unit in the North Dakota National Guard, with portions of the battalion previously serving on two separate missions to Iraq, six missions in Afghanistan and one mission in Kosovo.
While in Washington from July 2013 to April 2014, the unit supported Operation Noble Eagle by conducting 24/7 operations as the ground-based air defense battalion and collaborated with other Department of Defense agencies as part of an integrated air defense system.
Lt. Col. Jon Erickson, of Bismarck, North Dakota, served as the unit’s commander, while Command Sgt. Maj. Wallace Keller, also of Bismarck, was the senior enlisted leader. Although the unit is headquartered in Grand Forks, it has units in Bismarck and Fargo, and the returning Soldiers hail from 27 North Dakota communities, as well as 12 cities in neighboring states.
During Sunday’s ceremony, about half of the Soldiers who served in the nation’s capital will receive additional honors for having deployed two or more times. Additionally, family members and supporters will be recognized for their contributions to a successful deployment. Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, is expected to address the service members and their families during the event, which is open to the public.
Traditionally, Freedom Salute ceremonies occur about three months after Soldiers return from a deployment and coincide with the final of three Yellow Ribbon reintegration weekends, which bring together Soldiers and family members for programs and reintegration activities to foster strength and resiliency.
WHO: Soldiers assigned to the North Dakota National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment
WHAT: Freedom Salute.
WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday, July 20, 2014.
WHERE: Alerus Center, 1200 42nd Street South, Grand Forks, North Dakota.
MEDIA: The public is welcome. No pre-coordination needed. Jennifer Joyce (701-226-7185) will be on site to assist media.