News: North Dakota Patriot Guard, Volunteers Receive Awards for Service
Story by Bill Prokopyk
BISMARCK, N.D. — The North Dakota Patriot Guard as well as three individual volunteers were recognized by the North Dakota National Guard for their service with special awards during the North Dakota National Guard's 'The Adjutant General's Symposium on Families' on March 20. The awards presented by the North Dakota National Guard are the first step toward competing nationally as part of the National Guard Joint Family Program's Volunteer Award Recognition. National award winners will be presented at the Annual National Volunteer Workshop and Youth Symposium in New Orleans in August.
The NDPG received the North Dakota National Guard Family Program Community Purple Award. The award is presented to a community group or organization that best exemplifies the true meaning of the purple concept within the Joint Family Program, by working with both Air and Army Guard activities.
"The North Dakota Patriot Guard and the individual volunteers recognized by the National Guard have earned these distinguished awards," said Gov. John Hoeven. "They are always there to provide our service members and their Families with the support, gratitude and respect they deserve and exemplify the proud patriotism that defines our great state."
Since 2006, members of the NDPG have rendered honors at events ranging from sendoffs, homecomings, freedom salutes, and escorting the remains of fallen warriors, as well as providing a presence at airports even when only one service member was returning from deployment.
"The North Dakota Patriot Guard is not only an important member of our extended National Guard Family, but partners to all branches of service and Veterans groups in our state," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, adjutant general for the North Dakota National Guard. "For nearly four years, they have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our service men and women, Veterans and their Families all across North Dakota in a myriad of military events.
Whether welcoming service members home or sending them to war; honoring our fallen heroes or celebrating patriotic holidays or events like the recent Vietnam Veterans Day proclamation ceremony, or last fall's dedication of the N.D. Memorial to the Fallen in the Global War on Terrorism, we can always count on members of the Patriot Guard to stand with us in quiet dignity and respect."
The Gold Award is presented to the person showing long-term, consistent, and dedicated support in volunteering with the Family Program. Winners are recognized for the longevity of support dedicated to the National Guard Family Program and volunteering within their community. The winner of the Gold Award was Alice "Dollie" Seerup. Seerup lives in Wahpeton and volunteers for the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB) in Fargo.
The Extra Mile Award (Retiree) is an award presented to an individual Air and Army retiree who distinguish themselves with outstanding and exceptional service to the family program by continuing to serve the Guard through volunteering. James Grote, Jr. of Minot, N.D. was the winner of the Extra Mile Award.
Juanita Hertz, a Family Readiness Group leader for the 231st Brigade Support Battalion in Valley City, N.D., won the Family Member of the Year Award. This award is presented to one family member that shows outstanding and exceptional service to the family program.
We are extremely grateful to these volunteers and the countless other volunteers that support the efforts of our National Guard in taking care of our Soldiers, Airmen and their Families," added Sprynczynatyk. "Their efforts are always appreciated and never go unnoticed."
Also included in the national award competition are the North Dakota Air and Army Families of the year. Tech. Sgt. Francisco "Frank" Gonzalez and Senior Airman Kelly Gonzalez, of Minot, received Air Guard Family of the Year award and Sgt. 1st Class Richard and Tess Haugen, of Dickinson, were named as the Army Guard Family of the Year.