FARGO, N.D. — The North Dakota Army National Guard received more print media awards than any other state in the 2009 National Guard Bureau Media Contest. Winners were announced March 11 and Air Force Master Sgt. Greg Rudl, contest administrator, said North Dakota took the lead with eight awards. The North Dakota Air National Guard excelled in the Air Force photography categories, coming out with four awards.
"The successful results of this important media competition reflect the professionalism and competence of our public affairs team," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. "Whether conventional print, broadcast or new media, our public affairs specialists continue to do a great job telling the story of the outstanding citizen-Soldiers and citizen-Airmen of the North Dakota National Guard."
North Dakota Guardsmen at home and abroad earned recognition in the competition. As a team, the North Dakota National Guard Public Affairs Office took first place in the Special Achievement in Print Media category for the special flood edition of the North Dakota Guardian. The team also placed first in the Outstanding Initiatives in New Media category for their use of social media tools to tell the North Dakota National Guard story. North Dakota’s 116th Public Affairs Detachment, which is deployed to Kosovo, placed second in that category.
"It has been a pleasure to work with such a talented group of Soldiers and Airmen this past year," said Lt. Col. Rick Smith, North Dakota National Guard public information officer. He replaced Capt. Dan Murphy, who deployed last year.
Murphy, of Bismarck, who serves as the public information officer for Multi-National Battle Group-East in Kosovo, addressed members of North Dakota’s 116th Public Affairs Detachment in Kosovo and the full-time public affairs staff in North Dakota in an e-mail, saying, "You all should be very proud of your efforts and hard work. Each of the awards are well-deserved."
Sgt. Eric Jensen’s writing talents stood out in the contest, earning two first-place awards, one for a feature article titled "The Party Crashers" on the National Guard’s involvement with Zip to Zap in 1969, and the other for a commentary about online communities. Jensen, of Mandan, is the North Dakota Guardian editor. Smith, of Bismarck, placed third in the commentary category for a piece titled "The Art of Caring Leadership Through Attitude." Additionally, Staff Sgt. Amy Wieser Willson, of West Fargo, placed third for an artist-inspired story series that included pieces titled "The Art of War," "Brush with Greatness," and "Carving a Niche." Spc. Tiffany-Iris Heflin, of Lincoln, N.D., a unit public affairs representative with the 191st Military Police Company, earned a third-place award in the Contribution by a Stringer-Photographer category for a photo titled "Down Range."
On the Air Guard side, Senior Master Sgt. David Lipp, of Fargo, took home four photography awards. He placed first in the Sports Photo category and earned three third-place awards in the Photojournalism, Pictorial Photo and Picture Story categories.
"It’s no surprise the Dave brought home so many awards again," said Capt. Penny Ripperger, 119th Wing public affairs officer. "His photography talents are well-known throughout the National Guard and the Air Force, and we’re very fortunate to have someone of his skill on staff with us."
Judges reviewed 406 entries from the Army National Guard and 290 from the Air National Guard before making their decisions.
"The overall quality of entries was the best that I have seen in some time," Rudl said.
Lipp’s winning Air National Guard entries will now move on to the Air Force Media Contest, an Air Force-wide competition. North Dakota’s Army National Guard entries will advance to the Keith L. Ware Contest, an Army-wide competition.