News: Aviation soldiers home after deployment to Kosovo
Story by Bill Prokopyk
BISMARCK, N.D. - Nearly 12 months have passed since 55 members of the North Dakota Army National Guard's Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment (Security and Support) mobilized. The unit, which is based in Bismarck, N.D., deployed to Kosovo last September in support of Kosovo Force 15 (KFOR 15), a NATO peacekeeping operation. They arrived home to North Dakota this afternoon.
The soldiers traveled via two buses, stopping at four different locations dropping off soldiers in Oakdale, Minn., Fargo, N.D., Jamestown, N.D., with their final stop in Bismarck, at the North Dakota National Guard's Army Aviation Support Facility. Soldiers were welcomed home and cheered at each location.
"The men and women of the 1-112th Aviation Regiment did an outstanding job while deployed to Kosovo this past year," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. "We are grateful to them and their families for their service and sacrifice, and we are proud to welcome them home from a successful peacekeeping mission."
Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, Brig. Gen. David Anderson, commander for the North Dakota National Guard's Army Component Command, Guardsmen, family and friends greeted nearly 50 soldiers at the buses' final destination in Bismarck.
The North Dakota Guard soldiers' accomplished their important and busy mission in Kosovo. Aviation Task Force flew more than 2,800 accident-free hours, transported more than 2,600 passengers and 238 tons of supplies and equipment, completed 30 medevac missions to trans-port 37 soldiers or contractors to a higher level of care, and trained nearly 5,000 U.S. and Multinational soldiers on how to safely load and unload a Lift and medevac aircraft.
"I am very proud of the commitment to mission and the dedication shown by these soldiers during the past year. They've amassed a large amount of flight hours and experience while they were deployed," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. "We welcome them home and thank their families and employers for the support that they have rendered the soldiers and the North Dakota National Guard through this deployment."
While deployed, the aviation Task Force, comprised of units from North Dakota, Wyoming, Wisconsin and New Jersey, was charged to form a cohesive team to provide aviation support to the mission of preserving a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all throughout Kosovo.
Lt. Col. William Watson, of Bismarck, commands the unit, and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Schuchard, of Jamestown, serves as the senior enlisted leader.
Many of the soldiers hail from the Bismarck-Mandan area, but the unit is comprised of Guardsmen from 15 North Dakota communities.
A Freedom Salute ceremony will formally honor the unit's accomplishments in about three months.