BISMARCK, 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 Army Aviation Support Facility in Bismarck today to honor North Dakota Army National Guard soldiers and their families.
About 55 members of the 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment (Security and Support) received awards during the Freedom Salute ceremony. The soldiers returned in September from a yearlong deployment to Kosovo.
“The members of the 1-112th Aviation Regiment did an outstanding job while deployed to Kosovo, and today we celebrate their accomplishments and thank them for a job well done,” Dalrymple said. “They represent the best of our state and nation, and we owe them and their families a debt of gratitude for their distinguished service and selfless sacrifice.”
“The commander of Task Force Talon in Kosovo couldn’t say enough good things about the 1-112th,” Sprynczynatyk said. “Thank you for your dedication, for doing a successful job and for representing North Dakota so well.”
The soldiers’ families, and members of the family support group, also were presented awards today.
“Besides the soldiers here today, I offer my appreciation and admiration to all of the military families,” Sprynczynatyk said. “You, too, had a year of dedicated service here at home while your soldier served overseas, and we won’t forget that.”
He also thanked the soldiers’ employers, saying that without their dedication to duty and support to our state and nation, the North Dakota National Guard would not be as successful.
Sen. John Hoeven, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer thanked the Soldiers and their families during the ceremony, as well.
“We can never, ever adequately thank you,” Heitkamp said. “We’re here to say thank you, but we know no ‘thank you’ could replace the many hours and minutes you spent away from each other.”
Lt. Col. William Watson, of Bismarck, commanded the unit, while Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Schuchard, of Jamestown, N.D., served as the senior enlisted leader.
While in Kosovo, the North Dakota soldiers served as part of a NATO peacekeeping mission called Kosovo Forces, or KFOR, 15. They led an aviation task force, called Task Force Talon, under Multinational Battle Group- East that included aviation assets from Wyoming, Wisconsin and New Jersey, as well.
During the mission, Task Force Talon flew more than 2,800 accident-free hours, transported more than 2,600 passengers and 238 tons of supplies and equipment, completed 30 medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions to transport 37 soldiers or contractors to a higher level of care, and trained nearly 5,000 U.S. and multi-national soldiers on how to safely load and unload a Lift and MEDEVAC aircraft.
The unit is based in Bismarck, although soldiers serving in the unit represent about 15 North Dakota communities.